August 20, 2007

Farmer's Markets! (And Boring Internet Update)

As she writes this, Crabby is still experiencing major internet connection problems and still has only sporadic web access. She purchased a new router over the weekend with high hopes, but attempting to install it crashed both her computer and the Lobster's! It took quite a while to get back to the starting point of just sporadic internet access. (The salesman at Radio Shack listened with a very bored expression as Crabby trued to explain all the horrible and unexpected things the installation disk had done to both computers. Then he wrote, as the reason for return: "Customer Changed Mind." A**hole. But at least he took the Evil Router back and refunded Crabby's money).

Anyway, Crabby finally said "the hell with it" and went out to play instead. Which was fun! Washington D.C. is an amazing city with lots to see and do.

Crabby does feel badly, however, about her neglected Blog Duties and will do the best she can to get up and running again. When there is internet available, she will try to do actual Health News Reporting and respond to awesome reader comments that come in! When there is no internet: more posts like this one that can be composed off-line and slipped in whenever the Web Access Gods allow. Hopefully, normal service will be restored soon.

Let's see, the topic was... that's right, farmers’ markets! Crabby went to a new one this weekend. She and the Lobster love going to farmer's markets, though for some reason, they can never remember they're called that and refer to them as "Flea Markets" instead.

So here are some things Crabby loves about farmers’ markets:

1. The free samples!

2. Unless it is a Fake farmers’ market, the produce is local and fresh and incredibly tasty. Even the vegetables are good.

3. You get to feel sort of smug because even though it’s fun, you’re doing this really healthy thing.

4. It's not like at the grocery store: almost everyone at a farmers' market looks really glad to be there.

5. Sometimes the people selling the produce are actually the people who grew the produce. Why is this so nice? Hard to explain--it just is!

6. Local musicians often play at farmers' markets, and some of them are really talented.

7. More free samples!

8. There are usually food vendors who serve at least semi-healthy food, and also Junky Food is available too if you’re in that sort of mood. For some reason, it all tastes better there.

9. Many people bring their kids and friends and dogs and make an outing of it, so it feels more like an Amusement Park than like a chore.

10. Even More Free Samples!

11. After a while, you get the hang of who has the produce you like the best and when it’s worth paying more for something and when it isn’t and you get to feel like a “regular.”

12. Holy Cow, there are still a whole bunch more Free Samples!

However, this wouldn't be Cranky Fitness unless there were a few Quibbles, even about something totally cool like a Farmers Market:

1. It can be hot and crowded and the lines can get long.

2. Bags of produce can get heavy if carried home for many many blocks. (For no real reason, it is a point of pride with both Crabby and the Lobster not to ever drive to a Farmers Market. Why is this the fault if the farmers market? It's not! But nonetheless, the bags do get heavy).

3. One can become so enchanted by the freshness and the variety of the produce that one can end up purchasing Way More than any human can eat before it goes bad.

4. The prices are not always cheap.

5. You can totally fall in love with some item one week and then never see it again. Or at least not until next year. (Supermarkets, on the other hand, will sell you a crappy version from far away for way longer, postponing your disappointment until you get the item home and discover it doesn't taste very good).

6. Local musicians often play at farmers' markets, and some of them are really awful.

7. The Free Samples! (There are only so many you can enjoy, especially if you just ate before you went, but Crabby can never, ever, seem to turn down a Free Sample.)

Do any of you have a nearby farmers' market or something similar? Or, if you have any thoughts about produce, Weekends, Computer failures/crashes, or anything at all, Crabby loves your comments! (Even though she has been terribly remiss lately about responding to them all).


  1. Yeah! More Crankiness. This is good.

    It's funny, but I never pictured DC as having lots of farms nearby. (I never actually went to look, but pictures of it always show a bunch of buildings and pavement, not fields. Though it does have cherry trees; I suppose those count.)

    I live in one of Portland's outer suburbs, so there are farms about five miles or so away, and the farmers drive their produce into the FM themselves. There are even blueberry fields where you can go pick your own berries. (Next year I want to try that.)

    What's up with Farmers' Markets where the produce is all imported from Chile? Isn't that a contradiction in terms? (Yes, I know they have farmers in Chile, but even so...!)

  2. I love farmer's markets and wish there were more here in the inner city.

    I used to fairly regularly drive through a Texas town called Hempstead. (They've since built a bypass-- boo!) It had a wonderful farmer's market with big signs that you couldn't miss. I would always stop if I had even ten minutes to spare.

    Oh, how I loved that market! And yes, it was so easy to come home with way more fruit and veggies than I could eat before they would go bad.

    What I particularly remember though, was going for a Sunday afternoon trip into the hill country to see the bluebonnets. I was with one of my many short-lived romantic interests (I was 24 or thereabouts and very much playing the field). I insisted we stop at the farmer's market for strawberries and we made a picnic by the Brazos River to enjoy them.

    On the way home, the remaining strawberries so scented the car that it smelled sweet, like candy, for weeks afterwards.

    Good times! :-)

  3. We have more roadside stands than farmer's markets around here. Not the same "quaint" factor (or free sample factor) I believe, but still fresh yummies

    My favorite was this,
    "5. Sometimes the people selling the produce are actually the people who grew the produce. Why is this so nice? Hard to explain--it just is!"

    I just got this image in my head of these proud farmers and growers showing off their produce babies. And the little apples hoping you'll pick them from fruit stand orphange...heh heh. Definitely more appealing than the standard grocery personalities.

    Sending hope-your-computer-is-working-soon vibes across the country. And if it isn't, go buy a mac. :)

  4. We always end up with 10x what we actually need whenever we go to the farmers market. It all looks so good, even the veggies, which I normally eat, but don't really like. All the fresh produce does taste way better than the grocery store does though.

    Hope you get your internet working soon. I really don't understand wireless routers, they are all powered by gremlins or something. One minute they work fine and the next they don't. I usually just give up and plug a really long ethernet cord into the cable modem and drag it around the apartment. Not as sexy as wireless, but at least it works.

  5. I like farmer's markets for the crepe stands. (Just being honest!)

  6. So until the Lobster scurries off to work I get to answer comments-- Hooray, I've been missing that!

    Hi Mary!
    I think many of the farms are several hours away, but I figure if they can get it there the same day it counts as local. I'm with you though, Chile does not count as local unless you live there! (Though I'm guilty of buying out of season produce from other countries at the store, I don't want them at the local farmers market!)

    What great recollections! You're making me all nostalgic for your memories. I can smell the berries in the car and remember how easily sights and feelings and smells could all commingle like that. And throw in a short-lived romantic interest and I think you've got a great Art House Film, or at least a country song! Thanks!

    Hi Katieo!
    Roadside stands are great too, especially the REAL kind. When travelling, we've been finding more and more fake ones where they basically set up a grocery store shipped-in produce department outside with no local stuff if there's none in season. But they market it like its local. Bad, bad, produce stand.

    And thanks for the good computer wishes--I have my fingers crossed!

    Hi Noah,
    You do the overbuying thing too, huh? By the end of week I'm eating all kinds of stuff I don't even feel like.

    And yes, the Computer Gremlins have been very frustrating!

    Here's what happened, for anyone who wants to know--this is too boring for the "main section":

    Unfortunately, our internet here is delivered by LAN or ethernet or whatever (the Big Cord), but I didn't realize my port was broken. We'd been picking up wireless which I thought was "ours" (or the building's) but one day it just dissapeared--turned out we were pirating it and who ever was bringing it to us moved out! Then in trying to install a wireless router on the Lobster's laptop, (and trying to install it on mine, because I was too dumb to realize that if I couldn't connect to ethernet the whole exercise was pointless) the installation disk managed to take over my connections and render me incapable of getting any wireless at all. Then it crashed the Lobsters computer and appeared to wipe out a bunch of data, though eventually she got it back again.

    So we're checking with her IT department to find out what kind of router we can buy for her computer that won't destroy it.

    So when the IT guys get back to her, we can then buy a new router and hopefully I can get intenet here without buying a new laptop. And I'm also going to try to find out if I can take my laptop to a wireless cafe--that didn't work last week (despite my purchase of an expensive caffeinated beverage) but I've tried a few things to wrest control of my wireless back from Evil NetGear.

    The Crepe stands seem to be pretty much universal, don't they? I think I've seen one at every farmers market but there's always such a long line I've never ventured to try them. But you can find me passing the bakery people and the guy with glazed nuts over and over hoping for more free samples. (Um, and thats "glazed nuts" to sell, like pecans and almonds--did not mean that anatomically! Nudity is unfortunately not allowed so I wouldn't know if he'd glazed anything else.)

  7. Great to have you back, Crabby.
    The local FM is okay, but not great although there's a local fellow who sells bison meat and it's pretty good.
    The Hutterites can be counted on for good veggies. For the most part though it's people selling the carvings or jewellery or other items they've made.
    What I loved was wandering through the big outdoor produce markets in Rome and Athens and the like. I love the feel of these places. The energy is wonderful and you just can't beat being surrounded by food. There's an outdoor market in Melbourne that I really enjoyed. I'd never seen so many varieties of pumpkin and it was my first exposure to pumpkin as a veggie as opposed to a dessert.
    Roadside fruit stands in the Okanagan (BC) are another favourite as is going right to the orchard and buying directly from the producer. We did that a few years ago. We bought a few things including some apricots then bought some lovely goat cheese and ate it with the fruit.

  8. As a kid we never went to the farmers market, I think because my mom grew up on a farm and was quite happy to just be able to buy things at the store. So I only recently discovered how fun it is...except yes I do have a tendency to buy things I never get eatten.

  9. Uh, I was about to write that we haven't any where I live, but it has just dawned on me that 'farmer's market' very, very likely corresponds to the markets held twice a week in several areas of the city. Silly me. o_O

    I sometimes go there, but I am always limited by what I can carry on my bike. Another thing we have here is local farmers selling one type of product in their farm (for instance, they sell you strawberries for 3 euros a kilogram, all you have to do is pick them yourself in the field); problem being that I don't have a car, so I can't go buy in those farms at the moment, which is a shame.

  10. Crabby, If Lobsters IT dept can’t help you out, you may want to try using this forum:
    MAJOR GEEKS it is a great website that is very useful and habitated by very smart computer people. I linked you to the networking forum.

  11. There's a super farmers' market in West Windsor, NJ, just across the street from our house. It's every Saturday morning from mid-May to late October. I can walk if I want to, but I've had knee gimpiness of late so I didn't want to push it. I'm lucky to have it so close by!

  12. I'm reading a great book now called Animals, Vegetables, and Miracles by Barbara Kingsolver. It's all about how she moved to Virginia and grew her own food, and only add her own and local produce (no Chilean bananas for her!). It goes into great detail about why fresh local produce tastes better too, but can't for the life of me remember all the reasons. There are some great recipes in there too (I'm going to try making my own mozzarella next week!).

    I love farmer's markets! :) They're not cheap though, unless you go to the one that has day old produce that doesn't taste as good.

  13. That smugness you feel is the same smugness I feel. Some big box store isn't getting anything from me!

    I like seeing who grew what I bought too. If I get sick from it, I know who to bitch to!

  14. Hi all--So I'm sipping a latte and enjoying the wireless internet at a local coffee place, so at least my laptop modem is able to receive wireless again when I go get it some. Hurray! (However, the next step is to get it into the apartment again. Fingers Crossed!)

    Hi Leah,
    Wow, bison meat and Hutterites! (Are they, like Menonites or something? My staggering cultural ignorance is quite embarrassing). Anyway, sounds like more exotic offerings than the usual. And I'm like you, I love open air markets in foreign countries!

    Same with me, I only discovered them in the last few years and I love them!

    Kery, yes, I think we're talking about the same thing--the Urban Version. And you're less lazy than me--I have no desire to pick the fruit, which sounds like work. Just buy it and eat it!

    I wish I could just magically transport you Chez Crab! The Geeks site looks great, too. I notice that on the first page there were several other people also moaning about screwed up HP wireless access.

    Hey Eh!
    Sounds like a great one. As I recall, New Jersey is a great state for produce. And hope the knee gimpiness gets better soon!

    Hi Leth!
    The book is sitting on my nightstand at this very moment, and I must read it soon! I love her fiction too, and the Lobster also highly recommends the book. However, I have to say that there's no f**cking way I'm making my own mozzarella anytime soon! Good for you.

    Hi Goinggone!

    Smugness may not be the most noble of emotions, but it does motivate a lot of healthy behavior, doesn't it? Glad you admit to some of it too.

  15. Hey there,

    This is so funny, because I just wrote about farmer's markets over at my blog. I was ecstatic with my morning at the farmer's market because it made for some GREAT photos.

    Hope you have a great week!

    Sylvia C.

  16. Glad to see you back little Crab!

    Would I be correct in guessing that the reason you like Farmer's markets is for the free samples!

  17. We ended up at a nearby farmer's market after hitting the garage sales late one Saturday morning. As some have mentioned, produce looked great but everything was quite costly. Hunger got the best of us though, and we wandered over to the barbecue where a wonderful eastern European woman was grilling sausages. I generally don't like sausages, but the combination of an empty belly, the wonderful smell and the older woman's charm worked magic. It tasted incredible. Next time I'll stick with the fruit. ;)

  18. Sylvia,
    How funny! I'll have to check out your pictures. I had the same plan but forgot the camera!

    Hi Dawn,
    Free samples? Do they give out Free Samples at Farmers Markets?

    Hey Hilary!
    I sometimes get tempted by the junkiest food there, because the aura of "healthy" just seems to surround the whole enterprise. A brownie couldn't really be bad for you if comes from a farmers market could it? Hope you enjoyed the sausage! Every now and then you got to have a nice greasy meat item.

  19. Down here near Clemson, SC we have 2 weekly farmers markets. One set up "on the sqaure" in Anderson and on also set up "on the square" in Pendleton. Then we have a very unique Flea Market/Farmer's Market combo called The Jockey Lot over near Williamston. The Jockey Lot used to boast that it was the largest flea market in the South, but I really don't think that's the case anymore. It does come complete with inside booth rental, outside table rental, AC on the inside for when it's really hot, 2 or three restaurants (short order/grease pit style), and and ATM which always has a long line. Local musicians include Peruvian Indians (I think) selling their woodwind instrument recordings, live performances, woodwind chimes, and "indian" or "mexican" blankets. Definitely makes for a full day trip. No where else can you get fresh tomatoes and a still working black and white TV at the same time.

  20. Christina,
    Wow, the Jockey Lot sounds like an awesome institution! Though given so much of the crap that's on tv, perhaps Rotten Tomatoes and a cheap black and white would be an even better combo--then whenever something really annoying comes on...

    Great comment, and it makes me want to check out the Jockey lot if I'm ever in Clemson!

  21. It's good that you're getting away from the computer to see the sites of DC. I've only been there once but would love to go back.

    I think it was on the Pennsylvania turn pike (could've been the Ohio one) there were farm markets at ever service station. And to me that seemeed sort of strange but my mom picked up a bag of plums and they sure were good.

    I keep meaning to check out the farmers market in my city but besides being in a not so great area of town, they have odd hours. There is this ranbom guy with a stand in front of a hotel who sells some yummy tomatoes...

    Farmer's markets are great...

  22. Hi Meg!
    Funny, I just bought tomatoes (and peaches) from a Random Guy. We in some cute little town, the name of which I can't remember--perhaps it was Frederick. Must have gotten them from his own garden. But I'm due for another farmers market run soon!


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