I always feel rich when I leave the farmers market, do you? I went early this morning, for two reasons—one, because my daughter, who just gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, asked me to fix her some healing meals. That’s a serious request in this house. And two, because my friend, June, happened to mention that the field peas were in, and I don’t grow field peas. Yet.
Field peas are sort of a religion in the south, and there are lots of people around here that remember sitting on the front porch of their grandma’s house with a lemonade, shelling the danged peas for dinner. When you’re a kid, shelling peas seems SO boring. It reminds me of whining about going to church when you’re a kid and would rather be swimming at the lake with your friends. When you get a little older, you appreciate the relaxing experience of shelling peas and listening to friendly gossip, or going to church and leaving with a sense of peace. But if you’re running short on time, you can buy fresh shelled peas at the farmers market.
I always leave the farmers market feeling rich, because I can spend a few dollars and bring home paper bags filled with the absolute freshest and most beautiful seasonal food that is available. Today I brought home bushels of field peas to blanch and freeze, along with ripe Georgia peaches, strawberries, blackberries, and blueberries bursting with sweet juice. A gallon of local milk and buttermilk will make fine ricotta cheese and homemade yogurt. A few avocados will be blended with my own tomatoes, garlic and herbs to make delicious guacamole. A bunch of lemons will be transformed into thirst-quenching lemonade. We’ll feast like royalty. Shopping at the farmers market saves us lots of money, and it is a much healthier way to eat. I didn’t buy one packaged food item, unless you count the milk.
Shopping at the farmers market isn’t only about the produce, though. I had a wonderful time talking with the ladies behind the counter. I got the inside scoop on which peas were best, what peaches were perfectly ripe, and who smokes the best bacon in town. I learned exactly how to clean, blanch and freeze my field peas. I enjoyed watching the workers feeding the fat pods of peas into the sheller, knowing that in a matter of hours those fresh peas would be in my freezer. I like knowing that my hard-earned dollars are helping to support our local farmers.
Shopping at the farmers market is a much more personal experience than shopping in a big box supermarket. It’s a little step back in time that feeds not only your body, but your soul.