This time of the year has always been “Farmer’s Market” time which brings forth this question, “Will there be farmer’s markets this spring and summer in neighborhoods around the world?”
More than likely, the coronavirus will impact farmer’s markets as it has everything else.
I have never been anywhere in the spring and summer that there were not farmers and food producers coming to towns and villages— setting up booths and tables for fruit and vegetable displays for the local gentry as well as the everyday folk.
England, France and Italy are particularly big with regard to street markets, which offer the same options that we get with farmer’s markets on our side of the Atlantic. While staying with friends in France, in particular, the hosts would always head down to the square on Saturday morning and grocery shop for the weekend. There are abundant, large-scale grocery stores in other countries, just as it is here, but there is something downright spiritual about procuring fresh grown fruits and vegetables directly from the grower. Farmer’s markets and street markets mean there is no middle man.
You note that there is abundant gossip and small talk. Farmer’s market’s and street markets are social outings. At street market in France and Italy, but certainly not confined to those two places, you will find local wines for sale. You can make a purchase and borrow a corkscrew, find a shade tree and next thing you know, there comes an urge to shout hosanna’s and offer toasts of friendship to the locals.
Although it has not been in the headlines so much lately, you may remember when Ramallah got top billing in the nightly news. The epicenter of the West Bank is a citrus and olive haven, but there is much more with this unequaled horn of plenty when it comes to foodstuffs. The street market there was the most extravagant that I have ever seen.
While on a trip to Israel years ago, an Arab roommate at Georgia called a cousin who lived in Ramallah. The cousin came across the border, driving into Jerusalem and picked me up for the brief journey back to Ramallah.
Vince Dooley was in the traveling party and wanted to come along. Vince is always up for any adventure. This excursion was absorbing and stimulating although our Israeli guide advised us not to make the journey. We didn’t feel unsafe because we were with someone with local knowledge and made sure we did not look suspicious or given to trespassing.
When we disembarked in downtown Ramallah, we found long tables which seem to stretch the length of a football field, though I’m sure it was much less. There were fruits and vegetables overflowing the tables— avocados, greens, berries, mangos, grapes, bananas, figs, melons, strawberries, herbs, olives, citrus and flowers—with Palestinian women filling their baskets from this limitless cornucopia. The conclusion was that there may be plenty of political issues in this troubled land, but nobody in the West Bank was going hungry. A 5.
In France in a village known as Conques, I once joined a French journalist and a friend of his for a long weekend. After a drive in the countryside on a Saturday, we stopped at a local market and shopped for Sunday lunch—vegetables and fruits primarily. No need for wine. He made his own from the vineyard on his property. He also grew his own herbs to garnish a fulfilling meal. This lunch was unforgettable.
I have always enjoyed trips to the State Farmer’s Market, just south of the Atlanta Airport, in Forest Park. Seeing ample produce on display is one of the most stimulating of experiences. Maybe that is why artists seem to have a bent for painting vegetable scenes.
People who deal in, gardens, produce and foodstuffs are by nature generous and giving to their friends and neighbors. It is like the vendor gets sentimental pleasure in providing for your table. Remuneration is not the only objective.
In Athens, where I hang out there was, for the longest time, a Saturday morning market downtown. Later it moved to a recreational park . Regrettably, I drifted away from patronage. There were times when I would give priority to locating field peas, my favorite vegetable, at this local market. Buy a container and return home to my back porch. Then in the quiet cool of the morning, shell those peas for lunch and dinner.
The one in charge of S grocery Cool Eatonton shopping Mswgr at my Ad 9 X 5 address always reminds that it is cheaper to buy from the chain grocery. Then you don’t have to do all that work. My retort was but it tastes better when one connects with the grower and then shells the peas on a porch where there is invigorating solitude and time to think about the good things in life. Good food always brings about inspiration.