I've been trying to buy as many of my groceries at the farmer's market as possible lately and have found myself in a slight conundrum - which sellers to buy from. With some, it's easy. There's one guy who sells honey. Buy his honey. There's one guy who sells bread. Buy that bread.
But when I get to the fruit and vegetables, it's a toss up. I wander around the stands a few times, waiting for the perfect produce to jump out at me and scream "pick me! pick me!" as if one grower's crookneck squash could really be that different from his neighbor's. I've thought about buying from the grower who is the closest, or who is the most organic. But I haven't really felt like asking all of them detailed questions about their farming practices, or doing the math to find out which one uses the least amount of gas to get to Myrtle Ave. every Fri. night.
And then my coworker gave me the "well...duh" answer I needed. I was blabbing at the breakfast table about how I've been buying from the farmer's market and I get stuck wandering as I try to figure out who to buy from and she simply said just buy from the people who are the nicest. I mean, let's think about it. What is the most basic point of the farmer's market anyway - to foster community, to bring consumers a step closer to the land they live off of, and to eliminate the middle man between the farmer and the hungry farmer's market goer. Does it not make sense to buy from the people with whom you could forge a relationship? Alright, so maybe one guy's produce is a little bit more organic (whatever that means) than the next guy (or gal's). But who cares if the next gal is someone you look forward to seeing every Friday night? I mean really!
I got to thinking about the time I gushed about the farm-fresh chicken I brought home (and then had to figure out how to get it off the bone! spoiled by boneless-skinless all my life...eek) and I realized that I really look forward to seeing the chicken farmer and his wife (whose names I now wish I knew, and will ask the next time I need eggs. Or chicken). They are familiar faces, and they provide me with something I really need - food - with no gimmicks, no song and dance, just a smile and a nice to see you again.
And then there's Sam, the fruit guy with whom J bonded over plums. We can't go to the farmer's market without stopping by Sam's stand, sampling all of the plums we've already tried before and chatting it up with our pitted-fruit pal. And he always slips us a new variety, gratis, just for being loyal. Or maybe just because he likes us. Regardless - thanks, buddy.
J, thanks for remembering what is important - the people. As I got all caught up wondering how organic Sam's plums were, you were asking his name. I'm glad I'm marrying you.
Like my parents always said: Let's keep it simple.