Tuesday, September 18

The farmer's market fixture

Missoula's thriving farmer's market has been our Saturday morning entertainment and food scavenging ever since I've lived here. I sometimes imagine a juxtaposition of the outdoor market and the standard supermarket. On one side is the hard florescent lights, the tinny Bee-gees song in the background, the constant assault of flashy marketing, the check-out line tabloids. On the other side is the sunlight, the local street musician, the vibrant colors of the arranged produce, and plenty of quick conversations with friends. That's not to mention the quality of the food itself.

Farmer's markets are growing in popularity around the country, with about an 18% increase in quantity in the last 10 years. And many folks are finding that the local market, contrary to established wisdom, is not necessarily the more expensive option. The economy-of-scale advantage of the supermarket is offset by the lack of the local farmer's "value-added" elements (processing, packaging, marketing, distributing). Jen and I probably do end up spending more at the farmers market, but it's cash so we don't really keep track of it. And I'm reminded of the benefits by the pork ribs currently stewing in the oven.

It's great to see the resurgence of this most ancient fixture of city life, that original connection between the urban world and the countryside that sustains it. Its organically formed system of commerce will hopefully never be fully replaced.


andrew said...

In New Castle, the farmer's market is right across from BJ's.

Daniel Nairn said...

Right. By the airport. I think that I visited the New Castle one only once. You must not live very far from there.