Saturday, June 16, 2007

Farmers' Markets

We went to the Farmers' Market in Corvallis today (this is not a picture of it) and it got me thinking about markets. The Corvallis Farmers' Market is widely admired in Oregon and considered to be among the best. Certainly our location in the midst of the Willamette Valley positions it near plenty of organic farms and a number of them market their goods on Saturday morning along the riverfront walk. First Street is closed off and the vendors set up shop. All sorts of things in the manner of vegetables, fruits, meats, honey, fish, oysters, flowers, and sweets appear in the booths. There are usually a few groups of musicians (ranging from singleton BobDylans that never made it off the Iron Range, to aging hippies, to little kids). There are lots and lots of people, dogs, and strollers. Mostly people buy little or nothing--I'm guessing it would average 2 or 3 leaves, a half a carrot, and a couple berries per person. The walking pace is slow-to-stop and the circulation is counter clockwise. It is not a place to buy food; it's a weekly social scene. Nancy and I rarely go there, opting for the cooperative market (they carry most of the local farmers) or the farmstand at Gathering Together to avoid three of my least favorite things--a slow walking pace, strollers, and dogs.

Anyway, it got me to thinking about some markets that I've been to where people do go to get food. I'm thinking in particular of the Granville Island Market in Vancouver, BC, the vegetable boat at Campo San Barnaba in Venice, the Rialto Market, also in Venice, and the open air market in Split, Croatia. I'll grant you that none of these are "Farmers' Markets", although each offers produce, meat, and fish grown or captured near by. None featured dogs (living or for offer) and there were few strollers to be seen. Granville Island seemed the most touristy to me, but it is still a serious food getting place. In the others, I seemed to be the only tourist. Locals looked at my camera and must have thought, "What, this guy has never seen carciofi, calamari, or a tonne before?" All were social--people spoke to each other and discussed the selection, the price, the weather. What they weren't to my eye was a place to go to be seen and to see others.

So in Corvallis, Oregon, where we don't have green grocers, or for that matter, any grocers within walking distance of most of the population, we drive to town, close off streets, and don't buy much food from farmers who harvest their offerings, load them into trucks and cars, haul them to town, sell some, and take the rest back home. Then we stop at Safeway on our way home and buy our food, put it in plastic bags, and anxiously wait next Saturday and the Farmers' Market.

1 comment:

Nancy Flynn said...

Good post, honey. You have hit the nail on the head. Now your next one should be about those stupid shopping carts that are toy cars. XX