Welcome to austinagrodolce … My family and I garden with more intention and enthusiasm than allocated budget or overall design plan. It shows. Wildlife populations don't seem to notice our lack of cohesive design, they just like the native plants here. It seems by growing local we've thrown out a welcome mat. Occasionally, we're surprised at who (and what) shows up.

Saturday, January 12, 2008


Smug Alert: I went to the Farmer's Market today and I am feeling pretty satisfied.

I realize going is it's own reward, and there is no reason to get all self congratulatory over this, and yet I do feel slightly superior to anybody who did not go to an open air market and buy fresh, organic, locally grown produce today.

The fact this is the first time I have done so in a matter of a year or so is totally beside the point. It is January of 2008, and at the moment all that counts is THIS year. So far this year I am doing pretty well with the percentage of food purchased from a local vendor. Fully half my trips for food have been to a Farmer's Market. This year.

I'd been highly motivated recently because over the holidays I read Michael Pollan's excellent "Omnivore's Dilemma" and I urge you sincerely: BUY and READ THIS BOOK! It was on the bestseller lists for a reason and there is renewed buzz about it as Pollan has released another book "In Defense of Food: An Eater's Manifesto".

To get further into the mood earlier I was reading an interview with Alice Waters from over a year ago where she made her own case for shopping in a Farmer's Market. Waters' stories of chatting with farmers, learning how they raised their crops and taking time to personally thank and encourage them, were charming. Thanks to Pollan and Waters and others, there is a growing movement afoot for everybody to go to whatever trouble it takes to determine where our food comes from, who grew it, and how.

I was all set to take my environmentally groovy shopping bags and conversational skills out to "Encourage Central Texas Farmers" on my own this morning. I double checked the directions, pressed my husband into Sherpa Service, and off we went to the Sunset Valley Farmers Market.

I was pleasantly surprised to see a multitude of canopied stalls arranged around an open air dining area of sorts in the lot of AISD's Toney Burger Center complex. Today was a beautiful sunshiney 58 degree January day, but beginning as early as April, those covered stalls will begin to demonstrate their practicality as the temperatures climb.

As long as you ignored where you were in the larger sense - on one side of an ENORMOUS span of asphalt, it was a pretty crunchy scenario. "Only in Texas" will you find them selling organic fruits, vegetables, soy candles, grass fed bison, beef, pork, and free range eggs out on the asphalt that alternately serves as the parking for one of the area's largest outdoor football venues/headquarters for the District's athletics department.There was live music. There were loads of young families with strollers and plenty of coots and codgers who reminded me poignantly of my Dad and my father-in-law. Both of them were accomplished gardeners in their own right, and both were the kinds of guys who would have blissfully spent the morning roaming stall to stall to talk about how things were growing.And, as Alice Waters directed, that is precisely what I wanted to do, only the market was such a bustle of people choosing and lining up and paying for their produce that there were no opportunities to stand around and chat about anything other than how much are these and did I have a bag or need one.That miniscule disappointment aside, I did pretty well for my first foray. Or at least that is what I think right now, while all of it is still fresh, still enticing, and still waiting for me to do something with it to move it from "Raw Produce" to "Meal".

I already have recipes or applications in mind for most of what I bought. I hope to share more of that in the days to come. As I could not completely control the amounts of everything I bought, my goal is for at least 85 percent of the food to be prepared and enjoyed before beginning that short trip from produce to compost..So far my smugness is tempered by the realization that one trip to the Farmer's Market does not a locovore make.

But I am resolved to have locally grown food be a larger part of our diet this year. If I can get to a Farmer's Market at least once a month, that will do for starters. Maybe one of these Saturdays I will hit the market during a lull and actually get to chat up a farmer. When that happens, I sure hope I remember to say "thank you!".....

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