We went to Clark’s tonight for a cool fall evening ice cream and delightedly found two massive tents under which stood a Farm Market Stand that opened last weekend on 12 Mile Road in Berkley, Michigan, and will be open DAILY until Halloween.
You can’t get better than that!
Until now, I don’t know of any farm market stand or farmer’s market open daily in Southeast Michigan. They were so friendly, pleasant, marketing-savvy and inviting. We went for ice cream and spent $30 on produce and eggs and local maple syrup.
Dinners for the next three nights are taken care of.
It’s been years since I first became aware of the power and promise of eating local. It first occurred to me after I read an article by a Vermont man who decided to spend one year eating only foods he could obtain within a 2-hour radius of his home – not easy to do in those northern climes! He went as far north as Quebec and as far south as Massachusetts but really, he was limited in the colder months to root vegetables, oats and meat.
The idea of only eating what is seasonally available was like a new day dawning – finally, back then, I learned about how we damage ourselves – and numb our senses – by eating whatever we want, whenever we want it.
And frankly, the idea of being so selfish and greedy as to constantly live by a mantra of I want it now so I shall have it beyond all costs to wallet or well-being, well, let’s just say it’s not a pretty thing to notice about oneself.
Now, I have not yet succeeded in always eating local foods. I succeed maybe half the year – so I have a lot of work to do. And the desire is there, too. Last weekend, in Encinitas, Dan and I ate at a restaurant called Solace, where the husband-wife team include only locally-sourced or homemade items in every dish.
A powerful notion to not squirt bottled ketchup (full of chemicals and high fructose corn syrup) but rather to make it yourself.
When I was a senior in college, I took to cooking in my seven-roommate apartment. Once, I bought a big slab of ribs and set about making barbecue sauce from scratch. The kick and spice of that sauce was exquisite – smooth and velvety, stingy strong, sharp where it needed to be and soothing in other angles.
And the satisfaction of making it myself was, well, empowering. Strengthening.
Ever since then, I’ve tended toward the home-cooked meals more often than not. When I was a new college grad working as a journalist in New York City, my roommate and I raced home among our Reebok-wearing peers, peeled off our sweaty clothes, and let dinner take an hour as it should – the perfect amount of time to relax with jazz and a glass of wine and just breathe.
That’s when I fell in love with cooking – not for the local sourcing or health benefits back then, but because the art of home cooking forced me to slow down and find peace.
As this first full week of school ends, there are so many reasons to eat a home-cooked meal together around the family table. True conversation with people you love and who love you. My little one always sidles up to me mid-meal and throws his arms around my middle. “You are the best mommy,” he says, burrowing into my shirt. “You are so fun!” I may be chewing at that moment, but there is nothing better – and I swear, it never happens in a restaurant.
Studies show that children do better in school, stay out of bad crowds and habits and succeed more in life when they eat as a family as the rule, not the exception. I’m sure we can extrapolate such outcomes for ourselves too – think about the impact of eating alone in front of a TV or loud restaurant compared with a slow meal savored with loved ones or friends.
And I take us back to the idea of making meals with ingredients we can find ourselves – an arm’s reach or hour’s drive away, grown by the hands of good people who live where we do and care about our land. Who don’t pour chemicals or pesticides or the wrong feeds into their crops and animals. Who care enough to tell us about the lineage of our food because we care enough to ask.
The last important thing about all this eat-local buy-local craze is that it forces us to interact with our neighbors, to build relationships with fellow Michigan residents. That’s no small thing. In an era of virtual and distant connectivity, do not underestimate the power of hand-to-hand, or table-to-table, connection.