Yesterday morning I packed up the kids bright and early and we headed to the Keady Market. Keady is a tiny village that consists of a single four-way-stop intersection (no traffic lights, just stop signs), a handful of houses, an old stone church, and a gelato joint. On Tuesdays, though, which are market day, Keady swells with people till it’s hardly recognizable. Traffic is backed up, cars fight for limited parking spots, and pedestrians swarm over every available surface.
Keady is a more rustic version of Ontario’s famous St Jacobs market. It has animals being displayed in old barns prior to being auctioned off, complete with piles of manure and cow pee puddles all over the place. Nervous cows moo loudly, sheep let out bleats of frustration at being penned up, and chickens cluck all over the place.
Produce vendors stack their magnificent heaps of corn on the cob, baskets of fresh peaches, buckets of round tomatoes, and bushels of mini cucumbers and beets for eager customers to purchase. I absolutely love seeing all this local, seasonal produce that is such a treat here. It’s the only time of year when the locally-grown fruits and veggies offer just as much, if not more, variety than the imported grocery store options.
I love farmers’ markets because
1) The food is seriously the best: fresh, often organic, flavourful beyond belief
2) The food is fairly priced. Because there’s no middle man, farmers can charge what they feel is fair and get the money directly. It reminds us, as consumers, what the true cost of high-quality food is.
3) I’m supporting local business and doing my part to decrease our dangerous dependence on imported products.
4) My kids learn about seasonal eating and can appreciate the unique taste you get from something that’s meant to be eaten at a particular time of year. (Think of a late-summer melon: no winter watermelon can compare.)
5) There are awesome animals to check out!
6) The people-watching opportunities can hardly be rivalled anywhere else in our area. A large market is a magnet for people of all types and backgrounds, from tattoo-covered, guitar-strumming buskers to traditional old-order Mennonite women selling garlic out of the back of their buggies.
7) My son naps gloriously well after a few hours of exploring the stimulating experiences the market has to offer.
8) The fridge gets stocked, I spend a sticky evening making and canning jam before the fruit goes bad, and there’s a delicious dinner at the end of the day — usually homemade pesto made with the vast quantities of basil I’m addicted to buying.
9) No emergency trip to the grocery store needed the next day when I suddenly realize there’s no food in the house.