Reap What you Sow
This infamous phrase is more meaningful to a farmer than to most. So much food has been produced in the valley over that last many months. So much food that has left the valley, which is a double edged sword since a lot of money comes back in return to the producers allowing their business to survive. So much potential tax revenue and nutrition go to other communities. This highlights a problem that most farmers are beginning to face as the popularity of local foods and farmers’ markets continues to grow at around a 20% increase per year.
Some places are so overloaded with farmers markets that the producers are either scrambling to attend many markets, or they are beginning to see less return from each market that they attend. Even within a farmers market there are so many farms competing with each other usually due to a bad market manager who does not understand how many vendors to allow of certain products. As the amount of farms grows in the North Fork and other communities on the Western Slope this is an oft heard complaint.
But I like many others like to turn this on its head. One must have an outlook of abundance and prosperity. Any of you who have hauled the harvest in from the fields knows this first hand, literally dirty hands first! For a farmer like myself it is really seeing this through. What is this over-abundance of farms and produce mean? It means that too many people are not buying local food from local producers. Even in the North Fork where there is exceptional local buying (and exceptional local producers), there is a lot of room for growth. T
hink how many people are buying produce at the local grocery store that has been shipped in from so far. Even more important is how many people are not even buying fresh produce. Many will cite the cost of the food is too much compared to the ready to eat frozen meal or like. I believe that people have truly been disconnected from cooking for generations that simplicity has been forgotten. With all the cooking channels and shows good food seems out of reach. But as I tell my market customers time and again, just cook it with a bit of olive oil and garlic and your favorite herb and it will be delicious because it is so fresh.
So how can we best support the producers, and the markets that support the producers? It is by talking to people about how good fresh food can be. It is a bit like teaching your child how good spinach is, those who have been fed it all of their life have no problem eating spinach. Those who have been fed on snickers, ice cream, can foods, and the like will need more time. But if we can begin to retrain people to eat real food the market is endless for us farmers. All farmers markets could be full of producers and they would all sell out. City Market might not sell as much produce, but oh well. Imagine a market in Hotchkiss or Paonia like the ones in other cities on the western slope with fifty vendors or more all selling locally.
This is about good local wholesome food. Simple cooking, not a lot of fancy sauces and complicated pretentious recipes, cook and eat, yum. This is not a red or blue thing, this is not us versus them, this is something we all know in our DNA, fresh is best. The high fructose corn syrup, and genetically modified organisms, do not stand a chance but the growers need to you spread the word. So do what our politicians can not and step across the aisle and offer up your best and most simple kale to the masses.