Competitive Farm Marketing

You cannot sleep in on Saturday and expect the black raspberries to sit around waiting for you to show up at the farmer's market. You just can't. They will have up and left you forlorn and bereft, as they jump quickly, even frantically, into the first reusable cloth bag or colorful wicker basket that strolls by.

The natural habitat of berries at a farmer's market is close to the pay station. It's no good standing around waiting politely for the line to shuffle along the table to the berries. Say "excuse me" if you must, but slip in between and grab some of those jumpy berries NOW, and return to the end of the line, holding on tightly. You will be ever so glad you did once you reach the pay station and survey the scorched landscape that was once a lush berry patch. Remain vigilant until you have paid for the berries and secured them in your reusable cloth bag/colorful wicker basket. Because when you set them down on the table to retrieve your wallet, so as to make an offering to the berry gods, 99% of the time the hand of the person behind you will instantly hover over your berries while they ask, in foolish hope and lust combined: "Are these yours?" Whatever you are in engaged in at the moment, stop and lay a hand possessively somewhere on the berries with a firm "Yes!" that brooks no sharing.

Secure the berries carefully in your vehicle, in a cooler if you can't park in the shade. Then, and only then, return to the market to shop for the more abundant comestibles, the zucchinis and cucumbers, the cabbages and carrots, the peppers and potatoes. These will make the bulk of your meals in the coming week but the berries will make your bliss.

In your childhood you watched cartoons on Saturday morning and then tramped the woods with your friends, collecting the berries in a bucket, eating as you went, returning home with stained hands and a pailful that your mother turned into something delicious. You only had to compete with the birds, and there was enough for everyone anyway. But you washed your hands, and grew up, and went away to college, and then to grad school, and then all over the place, and now you live a cosmopolitan life in a city that offers so much more than you ever could have dreamed of in your little home town. You can have anything you want, really. You can even have your berries and eat them, too.

6 responses so far

  • becca says:

    🙂 Adorable

    That said, either you are remembering via rosy glasses, or your childhood was much more idyllic than my kid's. I make him get out bright and early on Saturday morning to nab the raspberries at the farmer's market for me. A wee person with his "very own monies" dying to buy the berries can nab them from the undertrained and soft hearted at the market, thus giving one a competitive advantage in the sport of berry nabbing.

    • Zuska says:

      Forewarned is forearmed! I shall be on the lookout for your wee one's doppelganger at my own market in the future!

  • JustaTech says:

    My (Sunday) farmer's market doens't open until 11, probably because it's in a neighborhood where most of the people are still ... abed until about that hour on a Sunday. (Friday's farmer's market is in the afternoon, to catch the afterschool/early after work crowd.)

    The fight for berries is not so enthusiastic, once they're well into season, as they are plentiful. And so many people buy blackberries (not black raspberries), even though they grow everywhere around here, in the city. Granted, they are an invasive species, currently being deliberately decimated by goats, they're often covered with car pollution as the best patches are by the freeway, and the spiders, oh the size of the spiders! They give Shelob a run for her money.

  • Cara says:

    Thanks for reminding me! I need to go out and pick some berries. 😉

  • Christina Pikas says:

    Your childhood experience picking differs from mine. I remember super hot, super humid, bright sun, wearing long clothes and still getting torn up, ticks, poison ivy, and the side of the road or hedgerow, not the woods. I don't even like them anymore!

    • Zuska says:

      Well you know memory has a way of highlighting particular things. There were indeed ticks, poison ivy, hot sun, etc. But none of that worked well in the story I was telling myself!