Saturday, March 12, 2011

to market, to market

I was sorting through the Roma tomatoes today at the farmer's market. Not a big fan of Romas (prefer the globe variety) but they're cheap and great for drying. The place was moderately busy for a Saturday morning but not maddeningly so.

Our farmer's market is not of the hyper-local, chi-chi organic ilk. No. It's in an economically lower-end area of town, run by members of the local Hispanic population. Some of the fruits and vegetables are grown nearby and some are trucked in from parts unknown. I suspect little of it is organic. You're not going to find any fussy heirloom tomatoes, hydroponically grown radicchio, or cunning containers of edamame (delicious foods for which I am constitutionally unable to hand over that much of my income). But you can get stuff that is in season and reasonably priced. They've also got bulk rice and beans on the side and a flotilla of above average taco carts out back. Across the street is a panaderia full of pan dulces that are tasty, artificially colored and probably have never been compromised by ingredients as expensive as butter.

It is, as close to the traditional, enduring marketplace as you can find in a large urban area. A large urban area rife with brightly lit, flagship supermarkets, big as a football fields.

The place has rows and rows of low-walled wooden tables, each piled high with fruits or vegetables. As I picked through the ripe Romas, I looked up and saw an older Hispanic woman doing the same, focused on her task with sure, slightly arthritic hands. While a middle-aged Asian woman at another table sorted through beans next to a young woman eying the peppers, I experienced a rare moment of connectedness to women who have visited marketplaces for millennia. Going through the ordinary, mundane act of sifting and sorting through foodstuffs to find the best items at the best price, in order to make meals for their families.

And I felt honored to be counted among them.

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