Like anyone consumed by their work, I ponder, read, and spout off more about local food, health, and sustainable agriculture than the Surgeon General recommends. And if you know me well, you know that the food “movement” has not been spared from my somewhat cynical world-view. And yet the Sunday farmer’s market, nestled in its humble crag under the highway, still leaves me tingly.
It’s not the food, really. It’s that there are no jerks at the market—a precious refuge in this gritty city. It’s that there are so many different faces—often not the case in the pallid foodie dimension—and most of those faces are smiling. It’s buying from farmers I’ve known for over a decade, longer than many of my friends. It’s seeing people’s generosity, either through a plunk in the de facto offering plate of the panhandler’s cup, or a coin tossed to a busker, or a signature on a petition for a humanitarian cause.
It’s Earl Martin, who always cuts me ridiculous deals on produce, though I’m not sure how I earned his favor. It’s scurrying to the other end of his table to buy something extra at full price to thank him for his generosity. It’s buying eggs from the Hibberts, who always seem genuinely happy to see me, and I wonder why, until I realize that I’m genuinely happy to see them too. It’s seeing Pam Pahl, and remembering that she took up her husband’s family farming legacy after he passed, a single mom with three kids and a calling. It’s Dave Reid, who always calls me Chrissy and I really don’t care because he wears his goodness the way some of us wear our defenses.
Don’t get me wrong, the food is good too. I rarely bring a list but always leave dizzy with the inventory of meals I can—nay must!—make during the week. Pasta carbonara with loads of parsley. Fish stew with herbs. Kale risotto.
I leave each week feeling reassured by the goodness of the world, humbled by the benevolence of nature, and connected to the thousands of folks I shared a space with for a few beautiful moments, as we collectively savored a week’s end whilst preparing for the approach of the new.
And I think: this must be what religion feels like.