What is it about an outdoor produce market that makes everything seem so much fresher and better than when brought from the clean, air-conditioned, misted produce counters of the super market? Perhaps it is the variety and the large quantities, or perhaps the sensual pleasure of the vast array of colors and textures that make shopping at a farmer’s market seem almost like an exotic adventure.
This weekend, struck with the urge for a first taste of summer, I decided to visit the local farmers’ market where produce is sold directly to the consumer by eager produce vendors. Wandering among the various vendors, selecting the best looking fruits and vegetables becomes a challenging experience.
Piles of large green watermelons and huge cantaloupes beckon. Why is it that the melons seem so much bigger than the ones in the grocery stores? Mounds and mounds of red tomatoes – are they too ripe? Are they too green? Are they still like the cardboard-tasting tomatoes of winter? Fresh yellow corn is laying in piles, still in the husk, with fine silk hair like corn babies. Buying in quantity for fresh corn-on-the-cob seems like the only sensible thing to do. Then there are the strawberries and blueberries, all looking much too temptingly luscious and fresh to pass by.
Laden with bags of corn, new potatoes, and berries, we wind our way back to the outside, thinking of all the wonderful meals we will have next week, sure that the produce is much fresher and cheaper than it could possibly be from any grocery store. Sure, we still have to visit the supermarket. There is a lot more to meals these days than just fresh produce. But think of how much fun we would have missed shopping the normal way.
While I appreciate the quantity and dependability of our ever-present supermarket food supply, I also hope to be able to continue to occasionally be reminded of another time, another way of shopping, another way of doing things. I hope that I might always take delight in simple pleasures and in trying to find the extraordinary in the ordinary.