Another Saturday, another visit to the farmer’s market.
The Old Strathcona Farmer’s Market is easily my favorite thing about Edmonton right now. It’s one of those old-school food and craft markets, where hippie soapmakers rub shoulders with Ukranian grandmothers peddling pierogies. It echoes the food markets I’ve grown to love in Asia, and yet somehow it’s completely unique.
Helene and I have been there every Saturday for the last four weeks, and it’s quickly replaced the Planet Organic market as our source of high-quality ingredients. Not only that, but we’re turning into “organic snobs”, as we’re starting to consider organic certification of food as the second-best option. Who cares about an international QA company calling a tomato “organic” when you can talk to the man who grew it, and ask him questions about the process?
Michael Pollan, in his stunning book titled In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto called this practice “shaking the hand that feeds you”. Truth be told, I’m getting hooked on this ability to meet face-to-face with the person who grew my vegetables, and be able to talk about their produce with them. When I drink my coffee in the morning, I can picture the young, dynamic couple who roasted it three days ago, and who gave me an extra free bag this weekend. When I eat aragula salad, I see the kind grandmother who sells it to us. When I cook the grass-fed beef I now buy, I can remember seeing the pictures of the farm where they were raised.
How can you not prefer eating healthy and natural when you can meet the people who grow or raise or bake your food? I try to picture a McDonald’s burger after this, and I’m forced to imagine the long chain of artificial processing, not to mention animal abuse, that goes into it.
Compared to that, the simple life of a locally-grown cucumber makes for a much more compelling story.