Memorial Day weekend is the traditional opener for farmers’ markets. Here in the Corvallis area, we open about six weeks earlier than that, but still, there’s a big upsurge in both customers and vendors over Memorial Day.
Saturday’s market was a tremendous success, with swarms of people taking a relaxed amble through the market on a beautiful spring morning. The Corvallis Saturday Farmer’s Market is set in Corvallis’ Riverfront Park, which is a wonderful setting, at the edge of Corvallis’ old-fashioned downtown.
The market gets better every year. Anchored by a few organic farmers who have been perfecting their craft over the past thirty years, and filled in with almost every kind of home-grown product imaginable, quality is always king. And while people in Oregon are almost ridiculously nice in general, at the market these things are raised to a new level in both customers and vendors. It’s what Saturday mornings in small-town America are supposed to be.
Some farmers’ markets are little more than craft shows in disguise, or feature supermarket-style product in a different venue, but this is the real deal. All the goods have to be things that were raised on your own farm. They don’t all have to be edible or anything — beeswax candles where the wax came from your own hives is perfectly okay — but it has to be local.
Interestingly, organic certification is losing its punch. There’s too much low-quality organic stuff out there these days, and every new purveyor of low-quality wares, lowers the value of the label for everyone.
(Not that I’ve ever been organically certified. One of my rules is, “I won’t join any organization that wants me to fill out more than two sheets of paper per lifetime.”)
If you haven’t been to a farmers’ market lately, give it a whirl. Try all the ones within range, because they very widely. It’s especially good if you attend in a lazy, “It’s Saturday and I’ve got all day” frame of mind. Throw a cooler into the back of the car so you can have lunch instead of rushing home with your purchases. Do a couple of liesurely, unnecessary things before you go. You’ll live longer.