When we moved to Black Mountain six weeks ago, I was thrilled to have quick access to not one, but two major grocery chains. In addition to the Bi-Lo just a 5-minute drive from the house, Mr. Ingles himself lives nearby and maintains his flagship store another minute down the road.
Ain't she a beaut?
At our last house, it was a solid 20-minute drive to the grocery store. Add another 10-15 minutes to that during the summer beach season.
The first time I went in, I walked around this massive edifice to food for more than an hour. That kind of behavior is fairly typical for me and it drives Sue mad. She'd rather run in with a list and get out as quickly as possible. Me? I like to browse.
Life seemed just ducky at the supermarket, until I learned about the weekly farmers market. Sure, I've stopped at roadside farmstands to buy my produce in the summertime, but I've never lived in a place that had a market - especially one that could replace so much of my weekly food consumption with glorious, locally-produced, organic, free-range, happy products.So this is where I shop now. The Black Mountain Tailgate Market meets each Saturday, from 9 a.m. until noon, behind the First Baptist Church. Since I started going there, I know the names of the people who grow my vegetables and fruits, my chickens, my eggs, my grass-fed beef, my pork. I also know the people who make my pasta and bread, my cheese, my cider and roast my coffee beans. It is without a doubt the most-delicious, cleanest tasting food I have ever had the privilege to eat.
Does it cost more? Yes it does, but I'm willing to pay $3 for a dozen eggs that taste like these and come from yard chickens - not the laying hens in industrial egg houses that live in cages so small they cannot move and have their beaks clipped square so they can't peck at the chickens beside them. I'll pay the extra $2.50 a pound to know my chickens and eggs ate a diverse and natural diet - not one of corn and animal by-products. I can see, smell and taste the difference.
I love being able to make this choice. The fact that the market will run until the end of October has me thinking about ways to preserve these foods so Sue and I will be able to enjoy them through the winter. I've made it my mission to learn how to can, pickle and freeze foods properly. We've always appreciated fresh, local foods, but this little market on the edge of town is changing the way I think and eat.
I know everyone doesn't have a farmers' market they can go to every week, but if you do and you haven't, please go - meet the people who grow real food and support them. We'll all be better off for it.