Support agriculture at farmer’s market
The place to be on Thursdays early evening is Marktplatz’s Kinder Halle, where the seasonal and annual Fredericksburg Farmers’ Market is underway. In its 11th year, the market will feature the best, cleanest food available in the area.
For the men and women in this trade, it is a labor of love, with emphasis on labor. Theirs is generally a sun-up to sun-down trade, which, like a dairy, has little, if any vacation time.
The old joke about farming: “How do you get $1 million in farming? Start with $2 million and go from there.”
These products are the result of a lot of sweat and toil, as well as a delicate dance with Mother Nature, who can mess things up in a hurry.
And while farming methods have improved since the last century — now employing everything from satellite GPS to maximize crop production, to air-conditioned tractor compartments — most of our local farmers’ market participants do things the way it’s always been done.
There is still the simple miracle of seed, soil and water, doted over with much care.
Yet, to taste a locally grown tomato and then compare it to a corporate-grown one, is akin to comparing most movies to their original books — the delicious detail is lost and the corporate products are but a fraction of what they could be. It is fresh, simple goodness.
Those who have studied or even given thought to all of our “epidemics” — from obesity, to diabetes, to cancers — have to wonder if our food supply is a part of that health puzzle.
Since the 1960s, we have been exposed to a huge variety of new pesticides, chemicals, boosters and unnatural substances in our food supplies that were not present before — from growth hormones to polyunsaturated fats. Runoff from all these synthetic additions also affects our rivers, lakes and oceans.
Agribusiness has changed our definition of farming and, quite possibly, affected our health. To look at today’s chicken breast that is larger than an outstretched hand, is to notice something more than natural or selective breeding.
So, farmers’ markets (and food stores like the Peach Basket that carry local food) have grown in popularity as
people want to take their health into their own hands.
It’s good to see a return to the land, especially by young families. Recent statistics state there are now more than 8,000 farmers’ markets throughout the U.S., up from less than 2,000 just 20 years ago. And it states that experts say the local food movement is inspiring more young people to farm.
Many of these farmers are doing well with the foodie crowd and selling their products to high-end, demanding chefs, who create succulent meals with them.
We have more families into farming — the Engels, Marburgers, Itzes, Reehs, Crawfords and Kellars, to name a few. They are all scheduled to be on hand at the weekly market, along with some wineries and local chefs.
It goes without saying that no matter how successful an independent farmer becomes, his (or hers) is not a millionaire’s pursuit. It’s hard work with a lot of uncontrollable variables.
But when we buy local, we cut out a bunch of middle men, such as brokers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers.
That way, more money gets to the actual farmer, the one who toils.
And when we bite into a fresh peach or cook up some fresh veggies or grill a natural steak, we are more than thankful for their labors.
Here’s to farmers, and we’ll see you all at the market. – K.E.C.