Today at the Farmer’s Market

I don’t have a picture to go with this post. I visit my local farmer’s market each week and so going is the norm. A camera wasn’t necessary as I just wrote about CSAs and Farmer’s Markets for Bay Area Bites and expected to only pick up some produce from my favorite stands, along with some meats from Prather Ranch, before making my way back home for a day of gardening. But while there, a couple of remarkable things happened. The first was only a small interaction, while the second ended in a group of people working together to do a good deed.

When I first got to the market, I made my way to my favorite vegetable stand. For years it has been run by two older Asian women, but now their daughters have taken over (I think the older women are sisters and the younger women are cousins). While there, I asked how their moms were (they’re fine), bought some fava beans (which I’ve been craving), and talked about the differences between Japanese cucumbers and pickling cucumbers. Finally I asked why they no longer seemed to carry pea sprouts, which they’ve always had and which I religiously purchased from them for years each Spring. One of the young ladies said that they just didn’t sell that well, but that she’d try to have a bag for me next week. This nice young woman actually plans on bagging up some sprouts for me next week and bringing them to the market, even though they’ve decided not to sell them anymore. I felt very appreciative not only for her offer, but for being part of a food community where this is even possible.

A few minutes later as I was buying herbs at another of my favorite stands, I was talking about the beautiful smelling fresh chamomile with the man standing behind me in line while the young man at the register talked to the woman in front of me about going to college in Fresno. The woman left and as I started to place my purchases on the table, Mr. Chamomile noticed that the woman who was just there had dropped a large wad of cash — which looked to be at least $100 in 20s. He looked at me and said he would go looking for her. We both remembered she had a large straw bag and he would go out into the market in search of her while I stayed behind in case she came back. After he ran off in search of her, I scanned the immediate area and saw she was next door at the Prather Ranch stand. I told her we had found her money, and she went in search of Mr. Chamomile. Within a few minutes, she came back holding her money victoriously in her right outstretched hand, saying the Mr. Chamomile had spread the word and so he was easy to find. If you dropped a wad of cash anywhere else in Oakland, I have doubts that the same situation would have played out in a similar fashion.

I walked away, on this beautiful Saturday, feeling very grateful for my local market. As I walked, I came to the conclusion that people go to the farmer’s market not only because we all want to eat fresh and organic foods, but also because going supports local small farms, instead of trucked-in corporate agriculture. We go to see the same farmers each week to purchase seasonal food grown with care and catch up with how everyone is doing. We’re a hopeful lot, and I can’t imagine not having this little refuge around.

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