happens every summer. Children of all sizes and deportment are turned loose at
farmers markets like caffeinated poodles in a dog park.
I fully support kids learning about where food comes from and talking to people
who produce it. I don’t want them to grow up believing that all edibles come
from a Lunchables box.
understand that August is near the end of a long, soggy summer. Every zoo
animal has been cooed over, museum thundered through and putt putted. Parents
are looking forward to the traditional start of the school year with the same
thrill that NASCAR drivers do the champagne shower in the winner’s circle after
going as fast as they can, in the heat, for what seems like forever.
that’s no reason to treat farmers markets like amusement parks. A market isn’t
Six Tomatoes Over Eggplant, you know. There is market etiquette.
hot day, I saw a dad mutely stare at his son (who certainly appeared to be old
enough to know better) as the boy dug his fingers into a bowl of chopped tomato
samples and put them in his mouth. He ignored the vendor-provided sample fork.
eventually became too disgusted to stay silent, and said, “You need to use the
fork and put them in your hand, hon, because other people are going to want to
eat those, too.”
and son gave me the same blank look, which said: “Geez, lady, we ran out of
video games and Mom threw us out of the house. Give us a break.”
there are the strollers. Put even the mildest mannered moms or dads at the helm
of one of those bovine-sized tandem jobs and they take off like teens on lawn
tractors, ready to mow down anything in their way. Meanwhile, the youngsters
inside are reading the safety instructions from the seat-back pocket so they’ll
know what to do in case of a crash landing.
drivers often have an air of entitlement. I expect to hear one shout, “I’m
wheeling around our nation’s future, which I carried in my very own body for
nine months. Now get out of my way so I can get a watermelon.”
strollers are so effective at cutting a path through crowded farmers markets
that a new use for them has developed. One flew by me recently with no child in
sight. Grandma had appropriated the stroller as a shopping cart.
children learn best at home, adult activity shows where they’re picking up a
lack of farmers market etiquette.
couple of seasons ago, by my observation about half of the corn vendors at the
State Farmers Market had stopped allowing people to pull their own ears from
the backs of overflowing trucks. Now, all of the vendors bag the corn
seller told me that she had to stop allowing shoppers to fill their own bags
because many would pull down the shucks and toss the ears back into the truck,
in search of whatever met their personal vision of the ideal ear of corn. The
result was a mess dotted with drying-out, half-shucked corn.
of the day: Fresh corn stays moist longer if you don’t remove the shucks until
you’re ready to cook it. If you’re worried about mess in your kitchen, tell
bored children to shuck it outside.)
summer, I noticed that many farmers were offering pre-measured okra in small
cartons instead of the usual serve-yourself bins. There’s a reason for that,
too, vendors say: Picky people were pinching off the ends of the pods and
throwing them back if found wanting in some way. Suspicious person that I am, I
wanted to know what was in the bottoms of the cartons and the vendors gladly
poured them out for my inspection - it was all beautiful.
August, I guess vegetables make us all a little crazy.
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