Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Living Local

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!


crzylady said...

such beautiful pictures of delicious food! I am looking foward to our little farmers' market beginning soon (and it is mere blocks from our house)!

lifeshighway said...

In Oregon, even the chard is beautiful.

Pomona said...

That is the most wonderful market - you are very lucky! We are just running out of homegrown, and have been buying our first vegetables since last May, so we haven't done too badly, but it'll be a while before we have such abundance!

I love the butterfly dress below - so creative and so special - I think you need to print one with ponies on next!

Pomona x

. said...

yummy, yummy, yummy, gobble, gobble, munch, munch, gobble, yum!!
Divine with a CAPITAL D!!!!!!

Ariella said...

oh, how I do love your photos!! BEAUTIFUL!

Maevy said...

I too love the fresh market, but we only have that in summer and fall around here. Thanks for the great pics.

Sherri B. said...

Everything looks beautiful. I had no idea it opened so early. We go to the one in downtown Vancouver when we are in town so I looked it up and they opened last Sat. too. I am heading back up north Fri. so I will have to wait. Anacortes doesn't open until May (sad face)but now after seeing everything on your post i'm so, so hungry for all the local produce. Thanks for sharing.

Unknown said...

Those photos are mouth-watering. I don't think I've ever had multi-coloured carrots! You really are lucky to have such an array of fresh and local produce at your doorstep. I love the idea of the first walk aorund and then conference to make a decision. I need to do that with my hubby- otherwise within 5 minutes of getting to a market we end up with 3 different kinds of soft cheeses (he's a sucker for them). xo m.

Mom L said...

I almost cried when I saw that beautiful chard - haven't had or even seen any Swiss chard since I left California!


Vic said...

Eek! Lookit those carrots! Piles & piles & piles of marvellous carrots! And silverbeet (or chard...)... wow!

I can honestly say I have never been to such a magnificent market... I wouldn't be able to believe my eyes if I had, I think... all too beautiful, bountiful, fresh & amazing...!

Lucky, lucky, lucky Lola... thank you for sharing, even if your lovely pics have made me RATHER jealous.


Kate said...

What a wonderful post to look at and read. 5 times a month my family and I pile into the car with a trailer full of our freshly picked produce and make the treck to Melbourne to sell our wares. We love it for the same reasons you do but from the other side of the stall. We love discussing growing techniques, recipe ideas and how are kids are going at school. We love meeting the people that take home and respect the produce we have grown with love and integrity. I'm sure the producers at your market look forward to your visit each time. X

diane said...


Shelby said...

I love a good farmers market. And I think it's so great how you make such an adventure out of it.

silverpebble said...

Good grief these images of produce are beautiful and your gratin sounds delicious, as well as having the extra factor of knowing it was all local x

Pia K said...

i've been meaning to comment on this post for so long, but life (the not so good parts alas) gets in way of blogging - anyway the picture are mouthwatering and gorgeous and the sentiment too. you must live in a truly magical place! love it.