My husband, Nathan, and I had such a great, simple meal one night this past summer—chicken breasts from the farmers’ market that I marinated in olive oil, garlic, sage, salt, and pepper and then grilled; corn from the upstate farm store; chilled cucumber soup made from farmers’ market cukes; and cheese with sourdough bread from the farm stand. It all tasted so amazingly good—so noticeably different from what I buy at the supermarket—that we didn’t need to over-eat. We had a variety of things, but all in moderation.

I once went on a fat-free diet and ended up eating twice as much as usual in a desperate (and I mean desperate) search for satisfaction. That fake food had zero taste, so I kept eating and eating, waiting to be sated but just becoming uncomfortably full. (Full of what, I don’t even want to think; the list of ingredients was long and strange.)

The reverse is true of real food from the farmers’ market; it has so much flavor, and probably so many more nutrients, that I didn’t need a lot to feel utterly, completely, contentedly satisfied. I mean, the corn was sweet and meshed so well with the olive oil and salt. The chicken tasted really chicken-y—it wasn’t the marinade talking, there was big chicken flavor in that small piece.

My mother laughs when I tell her about the “new” trend towards farmer’s markets. She grew up on a farm that Grandpa and Nana tended (her memories of it are in Cherries in Winter). What I’m going out of my way to get, and paying a little more for, grew right outside her door.

I know that if I ever tried to farm I’d probably starve, so from now on, I’m going to try to get most of our fresh food—the meat, fish, cheese, fruit, and vegetables—from farmers’ markets (to find them in your area, go here It costs more and takes more effort, but as Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food, says, it’s infinitely worth it. Think about it for a moment: why is cheap food considered better? And, as Nina Planck wrote in Real Food, the stuff we get at farmer’s markets is definitely better for us.

Knowing that I’m eating the way Nana did–food that wasn’t factory farmed or abusive to its workers or sprayed with who knows what–and that supports a farmer like Grandpa used to be, is well worth the little bit of extra time and money it takes me to get it. Besides: YUM.


Grandpa attempting to till the rocky soil in Saratoga. He had to get a job at the local plant that winter, but by the following spring, there were veggies in the garden.

Future ratatouille

Some of the great fresh stuff I got from the little farmers' market in our neighborhood this past summer.