Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Saturday was opening day of the Portland Farmers Market. The Vernal Equinox presented a perfect bluebird day with just a slight morning chill. The family set off, pretty handmade market bags in hand, giddy with anticipatory delight and readying ourselves to make hard choices over fresh produce.
There was definitely something magical in the air, the smiling faces of the locals made it apparent.
What a feast for the senses! So vibrant are the colors, the textures so intricate, the smells so scrumptious! The order of business is to make a meandering loop past all of the vendors; to ooh and ahh over displays of freshly baked bread, rows of daringly colorful flowers, sample locally made preserves or blackberry honey.
For us, the temptations are great and the selection vast, so we bring with us a budgeted amount of monies; once that supply is deleted and our bags full, we head home. This helps to keep us in check and to purchase wisely so that there is no waste.
After our first go 'round, we discuss what we saw, what we thought looked especially appetizing, and how we could incorporate those items into our meals for the week. Then if the balloon man is spotted, Pony Girl gets a balloon animal/flower/hat and we wander over to the music stage and listen whilst the kiddies dance about adorably.
Then it is on to our points of purchase. We stuff our bags with the fruits of local labor, exciting in the possibilities and looking forward to the taste.
Now, for me, buying produce and artisan food stuffs from the market is not only a joy but, it is also part of my belief in supporting small local organic farms. I also firmly believe that these foods are healthier, taste better and nurture a sense of community. I can meet the farmers, makers, bakers, growers and have a conversation with them. I can ask questions about how they grow the food I will later put on my table. I know the name of the man who grows the greens for my salad, the woman who makes the delicious Sunchoke Relish we put on everything is a dear friend; all of these people are part of my community.
It seems like a natural extension of The Utmost Challenge, as the challenge seems to me, it is just as much a lifestyle choice and the challenge is to take that next step, to include more of these kinds of choices into our life. To live with intent and mindfulness everyday. It can be difficult in a mass produced world, we can take it one step at a time, change as we go and do our best.
I have to admit it's easier when you live in a place that has such a banquet of local splendor. We are truly blessed to have a community that celebrates this kind of life. I feel very fortunate indeed.
In case you're curious, we dined on the most beautiful gratin of potato, leek, parsnip and local artisan cheese. Accompanied by a lovely salad of fresh baby greens and multi-colored carrots. Everything on our plates had been grown or made within 50 miles or less of where I live, by people who actually care about what I eat for dinner. Divine!