“okay, what’ll it be guys?” Zach throws his arms wide to take in the full spread of his table, then claps his hands and rubs them together, anticipating our orders. We rally off our usual list: a dozen eggs, some tomatoes, Jim wants some eggplant. Oh, we’re out of sweet potato again, grab a couple of those. Maybe that big zucchini there. Did we need onions? No we still had some left from last week. Apples? Any kale? Mushrooms? Do you have mushrooms yet, no not yet, maybe in a couple weeks. Zach takes some of our canvas bags and picks out the best of his vegetables, adding a couple extra tomatoes to the bag and a huge yellow onion while we aren’t looking. Shopping finished, he passes the bags back and we fall into friendly chit-chat instead, Zach asking us what’s new in our lives this week and reporting on some story from the farm.
It’s the same routine each week. We strap our two daughters into their car seats, toss some canvas bags into the van and drive over to our neighbourhood farmers market. we make our rounds, starting with picking up the produce from our CSA program and then visiting each of the other vendors in turn to chat and to admire and buy fruit and veggies, cheese, meat, eggs, bread, and sometimes if we are feeling like we would like a treat even chocolate. We linger with each vendor to talk for a while and sometimes swap recipes. Other kids wander over to make friends with our girls. Sometimes, if the girls are lucky, vendors have brought or saved something special for them – a peach, a cookie, a miniature pumpkin, a small piece of creamy, soft goat cheese. This is a weekly family outing that we look forward to and we take the time to linger and enjoy the market. We’re never in any rush.
When we are finished our shopping and are heading home, we take stock of what we have and design a meal plan for the next few nights’ dinners. We may tear pieces from a loaf of fresh olive bread or find and mostly devour the blackberries or concord grapes, passing back small tidbits to those who are in the back seat.
The majority of the food that we eat at home has come from no more than maybe an hour’s and a half drive away from our house. We know the names of the people who grow what we eat. If we want to know, we can ask exactly how the produce was grown or the meat was raised, and the vendors can tell us because the vendors are also the farmers who grew or raised it. Some vendors have photos of their farms on display (one winter Zach had a slideshow of photos that my daughter loved to watch) so you can see for yourself. There are no secrets or suspicions here. There are no dangerous chemicals, pesticides or preservatives. There are no artificial flavours or colours, and there are no huge carbon footprints – just good, clean, healthy food.
why eat organic?
many of us were raised with the mantra, “wash that food before you eat it” and we understood that a quick rinse under the tap or, if the was no water source available, a vigorous rub-down on the shirt would ensure that the fruit of vegetable was now clean. Personally, I was never quite sure what I was cleaning it of, and mostly followed this washing routine to keep those sorts of people who quoted this mantra at me happy. I could see that you washed some foods because they were dirty, like root vegetables and salad greens, but why did I need to wash an apple? Why did some people wash an orange if they weren’t going to eat the skin? I remember a friend from grade school who’s grandmother always packed her a piece of fruit that had been washed, then wrapped in paper towel and then put in a plastic snack bag, “to keep it clean”. We found this to be humorously excessive (especially if it was an orange) and always laughed about it – clean from what?
It turns out that washing our food doesn’t remove what we thought it did.