Saturday, June 21

A last day at the markets

Today was a beautiful day to wander through the two farmers' markets and one artisans' market in downtown Missoula.

The farmers' market has to be one of the oldest urban establishments. As soon as there was enough surplus agriculture to allow some people to devote time to other pursuits, there had to be a way to trade for food in a location accessible to the whole community. For the last few decades we in the West have engaged in a concerted effort to destroy this ancient practice, in favor of the super-efficient and standardized supermarket, which plugs nicely into the industrial food sector of our global economy. Fortunately, since around 1970, a growing number of cities have made efforts to conserve the farmers' market and the more intimate food system it is based upon.

I just finished reading Bill McKibben's Deep Economy, his plea for a more satisfying and durable localized economy. From the book,

"Every new farmers' market is a small step in this direction. It requires new connections between people who came together to found it, the farmers who come in from the country to meet their suburban and urban customers, the customers who emerge from the supermarket trance to meet their neighbors. The market begins to build a different reality, one that uses less oil and is therefor less vulnerable to the end of cheap energy. But, more importantly, the new reality responds to all the parts of who we are, including the parts that crave connection. One-tenth the energy; ten times the conversations - that's an equation worth contemplating."

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