Most summer Sundays, I get up, get dressed, and take my dog to the farmers market, which sets up just a block from our apartment. We get fruits and vegetables, sometimes cheese and eggs, maybe apple cider if it’s in season, and I always get a pastry to eat for breakfast when I get home. The dog likes to forage for crumbs and bask in the admiration of other market-goers.
This year, of course, is different. The market is still open on Sundays, but instead of occupying a blocked-off street with bars and restaurants, it has taken over a gravel parking lot about four blocks away. A woman standing in front takes everybody’s temperature with a remote thermometer, and then she lets us in, just a few people at a time. The stands are still set up like before (and the meat and egg guy hasn’t deserted us), but instead of browsing and asking the vendors what’s good, I tell them my name and they give me a pre-packed bag or box that contains whatever I ordered online two days ago. Sometimes I forget in the interim exactly what I ordered, so it’s like getting a nice present from myself. The dog doesn’t get any crumbs, so the admiration feels hollow to him and he can’t wait to leave.
Quite honestly, it’s not nearly as much fun to go to the market this year as it’s been in previous years. It lacks the community feeling, the unexpected pleasure of running into friends and acquaintances and dodging the people with clipboards who station themselves at the entrance and won’t let you pass until you’ve signed some petition or other. Still, I’m grateful for it. I still get my strawberries and cherries and garlic scapes (oh, my precioussssssss), and I can still support the farms and bakeries I’ve gotten to know over previous years. And if I get there late, I don’t have to worry about missing out on the things I like best because I’m lazy in the mornings. It is far, far better than nothing.
How have farmers markets and produce delivery in general changed for you this year?