How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Farm Store Welcome

As Pam mentioned at the opening of this blog, it is about eating and preparing food, but it is also about good food writing. One of Pam's finds is a 2009 publication, Field Days: A Year of Farming, Eating, and Drinking Wine in California, by Jonah Raskin. Pam has been reading it to me over the past couple of weeks, and I have appreciated its connections to the film Food Fight, which was brought to our campus by Chris Taylor and Thetis Sammons last year.

As Pam read today, I was particularly interested in the following passage for two reasons. First, the description of the bustling store, its helpful employees, and its connection to the farm reminded me of a couple of rewarding visits to Wilson Farm in Lexington, Massachusetts during the past year. Second, it is a sweet example of intergenerational learning about food in general and about the importance of seasons in particular. Herewith, from pages 70-71:
On the occasion of my first visit, I saw cars arrive and shoppers going into the Red Barn Store with backpacks and bags of canvas and paper. I followed the shoppers and, like them, looked at the produce, and I drifted into conversation with a woman standing next to me. She defined herself as a "locavore." "A what?" I asked, not having previously heard the word. "A locavore is a person who shops locally," she said. "That's precisely what I'm doing now." And I watched as she selected teh vegetables she planned to cook for supper.
The Red Barn Store is a veritable paradise for locavores. For nine months of the year, from April to Christmas, when it closes for winter and a much-needed break for the staff, Gael del Mar, Patrick's girlfriend, runs the store with help from two young women, Estefania and Courtney. In many ways the Red Barn Store drives the farm. The shoppers I saw arriving were insatiable for the organic fruits and vegetables on hand and couldn't seem to get enough of the items they wanted. When would the tomatoes arrive? a young woman wanted to know. Why wasn't the corn in the store? another asked. It would all be here when it came into season, Gael explained, but for now they would have to wait. Why not shop, cook, and eat what was available, she suggested to the importunate buyers, expressing much the same approach as Henry David Thoreau, who urged his contemporaries to "live in each season as it passes" and "open all your pores and bathe in all the tides of Nature, in all her streams and oceans, at all seasons."
This was clearly a new concept to the young woman who had asked for corn and was obviously accustomed to buying whatever she wanted at almost any time of the year. "Why don't you have strawberries?" she asked. "I saw them in Safeway." Gael replied, "We don't grow strawberries here." With that, the young woman took Gael's suggestion to buy what was in the store and in season, and she filled her basket with beets, fava beans, celery, kohlrabi, radishes, Savoy cabbage, and several bouquets of flowers. The older woman, who had introduced me to the word "locavore" and was now paying with a check at the counter, turned to the younger woman and said with a smile, "Welcome to the world of locavores."

No comments:

Post a Comment