Saturday, May 26, 2007

Farmer's Market

Today my husband and I rode our bikes to the farmer’s market in Carrboro to buy our weekend’s worth of vegetables. I have been feeling energized and virtuous ever since. We got a workout riding four hilly miles each way, bought fresh produce from local farmers, and avoided using plastic bags.

Before I began to comprehend the waste of oil involved in shipping produce across country from California (or across continents from South America), I didn’t fully appreciate the farmer’s market. I used to get irritated by the large crowds and high prices. Now, those same crowds make me feel a sense of solidarity. I’m glad that so many people in our community see the value of supporting local small farmers, many of whom farm organically.

The difference freshness and lack of pesticides makes is amazing. Last week we bought pesticide-free strawberries that were the sweetest I’d ever had. They were a little small and irregular in shape but made up for that in flavor. The difference between those strawberries and the typical perfect-appearing but tasteless store strawberries was comparable to the difference between fresh, local tomatoes and their insipid grocery cousins. We also had broccoli that was more tender and sweet than I could have imagined. (I never knew until last week that this is the time of year broccoli is in season locally.) Today we bought onions, turnips, small red potatoes, more broccoli, and pea greens, which we discovered make a pleasantly spicy salad.

The only problem with riding to the farmer’s market is it takes some preparation--and tolerance for risk. Instead of jumping into the car with a wallet and being there in 8 minutes, we have to pump up the bike tires, apply sunscreen, attach panniers to the bike, fill water bottles, and then ride for 25 minutes.

We encountered the usual traffic on Rosemary Street coming into Carrboro, and I had one close call when a driver started to turn left into a parking lot in front of me, nearly forcing me to slam on my brakes. So many drivers don’t behave like bikes have any right to be on the road. But I’m willing to take small risks to live more sustainably, and it’s great to combine transportation with exercise. One of the absurdities of modern life is how we rely on machines to save us labor, then either get fat and out of shape or have to set aside time to workout and money for gym memberships. But that’s a whole other subject. For the moment, I am happy to live in a community with a large and thriving farmer’s market--and to have the option of getting there by bike.