A Plea for Noisy Shopping


The farmers market has begun again.  This means late Friday nights and ungodly early hours on Saturday morning.  Going to any work on three hours of sleep is hard, but on top of that I spend eight hours standing at my farmers market stand and have few breaks since I am the only one at the booth.  But with all of these difficulties the farmers market is one of my favorite parts of farming.  It is here that I get to see the beginning of the end of my work—the point where I hand over a package of pork chops that came from a pig I raised from birth that will end up on the table of this customer. 


Even being tired the farmers market is a place of refreshment for me.  Customers who come back week after week and tell me how good the food I raise is and how much they appreciate my work.  Those comments make it worth it and on those days I want to quit it all, I remember those customers and keep on because I don’t want to leave their tables empty of the kind of meat I raise. 

The farmers market is of questionable economic value to me.  I could probably sell just as much through my restaurant outlets and retail store customers.  But I can’t talk to all of those who order loin chops in a restaurant like I can at the farmers market nor can I gain the education I have received from all of my customers.  Some of them are FedEx drivers, some are doctors, some are personal trainers and nutritionists, others are artists and housewives.  They share their recipes with me, their reasons for buying the kind of meat I raise, their insights into the local economy movement that farmers markets are a part of.

When I go to the grocery store, and I do go there on occasion, it feels so lifeless and quiet—vegetables piled in a hospital, animals in a meat locker.  There is no hint of animal or dirt or plant, just protein, fiber, vitamins, and plenty of simple sugar.  There is most of all none of the noise of conversation between customers and sellers and between customers and customers and sellers and sellers.  

I hope that one day grocery stores will transform into the noisy places of conversation that are now present mostly at farmers markets.  Life is not quiet, but full of the noisy chatter of animals and earth.  Going to the farmers market at 4:00 a.m.?  I am tired yes, but there is too much life there to stay tired long.  

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