Farmers markets have gone presidential in the United States. On September 17th, 2009, a FreshFarm Market will open by the White House in Washington, D.C.. – just weeks after President Barack Obama wished for a market during his national forum on health care.
This is a remarkable achievement in the recent history of the return of the farmers markets. In 1994, the U.S. Department of Agriculture recognized 1,755 fresh produce markets across the United States. Now, there are more than 4,685. The growth has been slow, steady and now a recognized benefit for farmers, consumers and ultimately the improved health of the community.
This synergy at the market between the local farmer and the urban dweller is to be experienced. Small time farmers, who typically receive less than $250,000 in receipts (according to the USDA), deliver their produce each week to urbanites eager for the hard to find fresh produce. Families, couples and singles of all ages stroll through the stands contemplating their menus for the week. Each delight in selecting fresh tomatoes, vegetables, greens, flowers and dairy and meat products while also learning, understanding and appreciate the complexity of the growth of real food.
Nina Plank (whose parents are farmers) has written beautiful books on the nutritional value of real food. As complicated as modern life has become and ingredient lists, which require a chemistry degree to understand – real food as it is grown is it. A real tomato red to the center is a treasure. Or, during peach season, to bite into a fresh fuzzy peach bursting with fresh juice is heavenly. Isabel Allende in her book Aphrodite writes of fresh real food as aphrodisiacs be it mangos, asparagus, grapes or figs. Real fresh food fills and delights the senses.
Knowing where and how your food is grown is a long lost part of life. It is also a story of accepting nature (and life) as it is whether there are blemishes, scant years or abundance. Ultimately, it also shares the notion of everyone working and sharing success together.
Fresh produce is a timeless tale from ancient cultures to modern times. A tale of aphrodisiacs; offerings to the gods; or now, a market for a president.
A new era has arrived. Discover the gifts of the farmers at your local farmers market.
By Keri Douglas, writer/photographer, Washington, DC
Read more at Ode magazine Exchange.
The Washington Post reports on First Lady Michelle Obama opens the White House Farmers’ Market.