Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Farmers Market Guilt

Today, on my way home from work, I stopped at a small farmers market that is open on Tuesdays around rush hour, located in the parking lot of a local bicycle shop on my route home.  Probably because I don't shop there often, and there are only seven vendors, who outnumber the customers, I feel compelled to buy something from each vendor.  It's some sort of farmers market guilt, I guess.  This means I count my cash before I even get out of my car, just so I know how much I can spend at each vendor, and even if one person is selling all of the items I want, I don't buy everything there.  

This leads me to a different sort of guilt, because it's weird to go from one extremely friendly and helpful person, who more often than not just spent five minutes instructing me on how to prepare the vegetable (today it was okra), to then pass up her delicious looking watermelon for the next guys equally delicious looking watermelon.  Watermelon Guy even says to make sure I let him know if the watermelon wasn't good, like he's going to cut down the vine just to get revenge for my disappointment or something.  But does this keep me from passing up his ears of corn for the old man in the next booth over that took the time to squeeze each ear until he found the perfect ones for me?  No, because the original guilt, that compels me to buy something from each to begin with, is being exacerbated by how nice everyone body is.  How can I pick a favorite unless someone is rude or sells me something bad?  And if I did pick a favorite, would I then have to walk to my car with eyes downcast to avoid the lonely un-chosen eyes of the others.  Sigh.  The farmers market needs more customers, just to take some of the pressure off.

But look at all the goodies I got, for less than thirty dollars, too!  It really is worth the mental anguish I put myself through to shop there.   But really, why are there only a few customers when there are thousands of cars driving past, and why have I only shopped there three times this season?   As impersonal, expensive, and predictable as the produce section of the nearby Kroger is, when compared to the farmers market, I sometimes have to wait behind a line of people to get a turn at the celery.  For me, it's become habitual to stop at the grocery, and even the lines and irritating other customers have become so normal that I'm comfortable and anonymous, like being alone.  I know that no one is going to talk to me while I knock on the cantaloupes, unlike the farmers market where if you find the cantaloupes lacking, you have to shun a real person who you just exchanged smiles with.  Could I be too shy for the farmers market?!   I am determined to practice.

After bringing all my loot in from the car, I immediately started unpacking my vegetables and stacking them on the table, and arranging them.  You know, like playing with colored blocks when I was a kid, only this time I was building a still life and just admiring my produce.  So pretty. So shiny.  I have to admit, I rarely catch myself doing that with Kroger goods as I usually only geek out to home grown vegges.

I did learn a few things today due to my farmers market experience.  The lady I bought the okra from told me that she and her daughter like to eat okra raw.  I never thought of trying it raw, but now I know it's fuzzy on the outside, sweet on the edges, and slimy in the middle.  In a good way.  
I also learned that a watermelon can be so juicy that when you cut into it with a knife, it can crack open with an audible crispy pop, and fall into to perfect halves.  Like it is so full of juice that it is under pressure.  No complaints to for Watermelon Guy this time.  Maybe he will be my new favorite.  

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