Today in my local town is one of two days when you can go to the Farmers Market, an event that the longer I live here in Maine is a truly joyous treat for me. Prior to moving to Maine, the farmers market was not a regular part of my life back in Chicago; of course its only been in recent years that farmers markets have really grown and become popular in many places.
This time of year, the harvest is finally coming in and today’s bounty included fresh raspberries, blueberries, glass bottled milk and a host of other goodies (including the first harvest of sweet corn that I will be eating tonight). All that said, the farmers market is not cheap, that quart of milk is $2.25 a bottle plus the buck deposit on the bottle and with elder child around we go through about 4-6 bottles of this milk weekly. I know I could buy the stuff at the store, where a gallon could be had for $4 but the milk I buy at the market is milked from cows that live about 10 miles from me by people I see every week. That gallon of milk at Wally World or large grocery chain comes from who knows where by people I will never see.
It was at my last stop at the market I ended up having a conversation that was the inspiration for this post, I was patiently waiting my turn when the lady in front of me starts trying to haggle with the farmer (this pt farmer/lobster-man that looks like a character in a Stephen King novel), she was pissed because the carrots were $3 a bunch. Now seeing as how I was standing in line to buy these rather gorgeous plumb fingerling carrots with aromatic green tops still attached, the conversation was amusing to me. It seems the gal ahead of me felt that $3 was too much for carrots since she could get em cheaper at the store, the farmer told her well you go right ahead but these carrots were picked by folks who work and get paid $10 an hour and who need health insurance. Well haggle woman walks away disgruntled saying his prices were too high and I ended up engaging with the farmer, who told me he gets that often, folks mad because his prices are high. Well truthfully he is the cheapest stand at the market and while he is a bit brusque in his presentation, his food is good and he always saves my eggs.
However all day I have been thinking about how many of us expect food to be cheap, no seriously, most large farms in the US are subsidized by the gubment so when we see food at a farmers market or see the organic stuff how many of us bristle at the thought of the extra price? I know I used to until I got to a stage where my stomach started getting twitchy and I watched the spousal unit sick from food poisoning and realized that maybe cheap food is a bad idea. Don’t get me wrong, I know in some areas there is no access to a farm, farmers market or places such as Whole Foods.
Back 14 years ago or so I stayed at my Granny’s house with elder child for a year on the south-side of Chicago and without a car, the only place to shop was the corner store where Wonder-bread was all that was offered for bread and most of the meat was grey, don’t even talk to me about vegetables. The vegetable offerings were mustard and turnip greens, anemic iceberg lettuce and the occasional bruised apple. Shopping sucked.
No, I am talking about folks with the means to get better food but who choose not to, yet food impacts our overall health. How many of us know folks with diabetes or other health ailments who if they simply changed their diet, they most likely wouldn’t need to start the day popping 6-7 pills? I know plenty folks like that.. folks who will pay a couple hundred a month to rock a nice relaxed hair do, who drive a nice car so they could drive to some place to get food but instead say “Nah, that’s too much”
Yet how can we put a price tag on our health? Moreso, in case you haven’t noticed food at the store is no longer as cheap as it used to be, seems there is a direct connection between cheap gas and cheap food.. now that gas is not so cheap, what you buy at Super Wally will no longer be as cheap either and less you think the prices are coming down, word on the street that no one shares, is that the prices will not be coming down. No, thanks to peak oil and the wealth explosion in places like India and China all competing for the same limited resources aka the oil… what used to be cheap won’t be cheap again.
That said, you are what you eat so if you have the means, treat your body right, its the only one you got and I don’t know about you, but as I get older I don’t want to be dependent on pills to live unless I really need them. No, $3 carrots sounds like a bargain.