Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Other Side of the Table

Ever since the first time I had ever gone to a farmer’s market, I have thought that they were one of the more exciting events to go to, no matter where you are or what you’re looking for. It is a gathering of people from the same community that share a common goal: showcase the pride and the best of the local, through farming, artistry, design, or whatever craft it may be. You will never find two stands that are alike no matter where you go, therefore blowing the standard aisles of the grocery store out of the water. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never been able to pick up a head of lettuce in a grocery store and look up and talk directly to the people who created my prospective purchase. In the past, I had loved (and still love) being on the browsing side of the market. Last Saturday, I felt what it was like to be on the other side of the display table, and will say that it’s an equally or even more satisfying experience.

The day before, Friday, I had spent four hours harvesting potatoes followed by four hours picking cherry tomatoes. I can say for certain that I will never look at another pint of cherry tomatoes and not think about whose back, knees, and hands worked tirelessly to pick all of these small, low to the ground marvels. They are delicious, yes, but man are they quite a chore to pick bushel after bushel of them. I must say, though, my work with them never took away their beauty, and I could not have been more proud to place them on our display table early that morning. In fact, it was the most satisfying task to put together all of our display tables since I could look at every item and say I know where and who it came from (Friday was a busy harvest day to say the least…)

As people started to bustle into the park area where the market was being held, they browsed our table and the purchases began. With every basketful of potatoes or pint of cherry tomatoes sold, I felt like I wanted to send them away with a note: “Wait! Before you devour, know that this vegetable was harvested right from the ground yesterday with my own hands. I took care of it so that it could get to you in its purest form, and I hope and know you will treat it wisely as you prepare to consume it. That’s the flavor of TLC baby!”

Well, maybe not those exact words, but you get the picture. One old woman stood at the potato baskets for a while searching for her perfect spud. She spotted an oddly shaped one and held it up “It looks like a woman who’s lost her bra!” We all burst laughing together because a) old woman comments like that are always funny and b) she was spot on. But besides the hilarity of this Gramma’s observation, it was even funnier because Sarah and I came to the exact same conclusion as the potato slid off her shovel after it was unearthed the day before. Little did we know that someone else would have the same feeling, and that the odd potato would provide us with yet another laugh.

Off Gramma went with her purchase, and I couldn’t help but think about how that potato connected us to that woman, who was then going to connect with other people with it through whatever dish she was going to make of it later on. I guess it was just a great experience for me to see those connections take place. Just like many other items we purchase, this potato already had a story behind it before it even reached the woman’s kitchen. It just goes to show that it’s more likely than not that something you buy, especially when it comes to food, always has more to it than meets the eye.

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