At five, my son Thor is already an old hand at navigating the farmers’ markets. His first visit was before six months. At two, his mid-morning Saturday nap was spent in the stroller at Chicago’s Green City Market, where the non-profit that I founded, Purple Asparagus, was running its kids program. Our weekly, sometimes bi-weekly, visits have created so many wonderful memories, including trying his first strawberry plucked straight out of a pristine pile by the farmer, or his market play dates with the daughter of another farmer who lives in the same small Indiana town as my husband’s relatives. Through these experiences, I’ve learned that the reward for our market visits was not simply getting the freshest and best tasting ingredients, but also forging a deeper connection between the food that we ate and the people who produced it.
Whether seasonal or year-round, seven days a week or weekly affairs, farmers' markets are appearing in towns and cities all over America. Although the market was once a primary means of food distribution, in the last century, Americans got lost in the not-so-supermarket with its shrink-wrapped meats and out-of-season produce. For those who care about good food, the surging popularity of farmers' markets is a cause for great celebration.
Farmers' markets are the perfect vehicle for getting families back to the table, connecting with one another and with the earth. Visits to the market are a fun and easy way to connect children with the source of their food, get them back in rhythm of the seasons, create a sense of community and develop in them a respect for farmers and producers and the food that they sell.
With this blog, I hope to help families develop this meaningful connection with their food, helping them get their children in tune with the rhythm of the seasons and creating lasting traditions through visits to the farmers’ markets.
Food isn’t simply a source of nutrition, but it is also a form of nourishment for heart, body and mind. By sharing food, we can create bonds that transcend age, race and gender. By using foods from the farmers' market and buying directly from the farmers themselves, we can create a bond not just between the people with whom we share our food, but with the people who produce it and the earth itself.
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