A few weeks ago, I resolved to finally visit the Wilhelmsplatz Farmers’ Market, which I’d been meaning to do for several years. It took a great sacrifice on my part, getting up early on a Saturday (really: they close at noon; that’s insane) but I like the idea of the locavore movement. I write this while drinking coffee brewed from Tanzanian peaberry beans, but Tanzania is local to someplace, surely, though off the top of my head I couldn’t tell you where.
So I crawled out of bed and drove to the market. I ought to have walked, to underscore the environmental benefits of saving energy by buying locally, but it was really quite hot. And there I discovered blueberries that cost twice what I pay in the store, jars of honey that cost three times what I normally pay, and a whole host of other foodstuffs that were selling for boutique prices.
Now I never took an economics class, but as I figure it, there was no grocery store involved to jack up prices, and the food only traveled a few miles up the road, not a few counties or states or countries. Everything should have been cheaper.
It made me furious– not just because the prices were higher, but because the whole culture of the market was anathema to me. The market was chock full of people, every last one of them white. The farmers, also white, were attractive. The stalls were polished and professional looking. They even took credit cards, for crying out loud.
Here is what I look for in a Farmers’ Market:
- Cheap prices
- Customers from every walk of life, but especially from the low-income walk of life
- Farmers who are scruffy, dirty, overweight, and wearing overalls
- Farmers who pronounce overalls as “overhauls”
- Signs that are misspelled and mis-punctuated, i.e., “Cheap cannalopes, fresh blueberry’s”
A farmers’ market should call to mind the poetry of Robert Burns. It should not remind one of the commercialization, gentrification, and globalization of the modern world.
I accuse you, Wilhelmsplatz. This is unconscionable.
Worst of all, I suspect that many, maybe most, of the folks buying goods were oblivious to the perversion of the market. People around here just don’t seem to suffer from class awareness– the constant, incessant, pervasive awareness that every single dollar needs to stretch.
I’d already realized that this is not the city for me, but the farmers’ market experience eloquently makes the case. I need to get out of here.
I also need to get ready for work, right at the moment, so I shall continue this discussion anon. Coming next: places Jessica should consider moving to