Sunday, October 17, 2010

Gentlemen Prefer Mochas

I suckered him into it last weekend.  With a hankering for Bitterroot valley apples and pears, and several years' worth of missing the scene, we headed to the Missoula farmer's market last Saturday morning before the football game.  With both kids wanting to go with me, guilt was piling high on Danish Cowboy to hop in the vehicle with me and head downtown.  He isn't a farmer's market sort of guy.
Especially not a Missoula farmer's market type of guy.  He was shamed both before and after by all the people familiar with the market and also familiar with him.  "Granolas.  Bicyclists.  Hippies.  Medical marijuana prescription cardholders.  These are the kinds you will see there," they said.  Not his usual bunch of pals.  But before long, even he was getting into the spirit of things.
The Missoula farmer's market is special for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that it is actually in Missoula.  Beyond that, though, are the people and the attitudes.  A large portion of the vendors are of the Hmong culture.  In the Vietnam war era, the Hmong people of Laos were recruited by the American military to fight against the enemy.  Largely abandoned and the target of Vietnamese agression after the war, many of that culture emigrated to the United States and settled in various communities, Missoula being one of them.  The continue to maintain their traditions and have some of the finest looking produce available at the market.  In August and September, they often have mountain huckleberries for sale.
The most important part of the market from my perspective is the attitude that comes with it.  Yes, there are some very "crunchy" people there, but the Local Food Movement that they promote is so, so important.  Many of the people at the market are also the same ones that help to run community gardens and bring agriculture in to our schools.  All too often, kids in our society come to believe that food comes from cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and drive through windows.  Progressive towns like Missoula are trying to change all of that.  Community supported agriculture keeps local farmers in business, keeps people and the earth healthy, prevents urban sprawl, and often contributes an overabundance of produce to local food banks.  It tastes pretty good, too. 

People are led to believe that eating fresh, organic produce is for the rich man's world.  Guess what?  It's not.  Grow your own.  Buy locally and in season.  Be happy.
Of course, I'm not the perfect one to talk about this since I live in what could almost be considered a food desert (another subject for another time), but the local food movement is something I really believe in.  Searching out farmers markets wherever I go is one way that I can support it.  I can't think of a finer way to spend a Saturday morning. 
Neither can Danish Cowboy, apparently.  With the local food-ers also comes coffee.  Really good coffee, locally roasted, though not locally grown (we're all hypocrites at some point, eh?)  I think country boy is starting to see the benefits of this liberal type of life. 

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