Rainbows from a Unicorn’s Bottom vs. Shopping at The Store (ie. Farmer’s Markets vs. Box Stores)

People have asked me a lot if The Butter Churn is going to be like a Farmer’s Market.

The short answer is No.  Not really. Well.  Sort of.  But…   The long answer is yes…Sort of, No.

The similarities will be there in the food sold – fruits, veggies, meat, fish.  And of course you’ll also be able to get your bulk/pantry items.

But I think that’s where it ends.

Let’s talk about Farmer’s Markets.

(And full disclosure…I’m guilty of everything I’m about to talk about.)

I have absolutely walked up to a Farmer’s Market Booth, or some Craft Fair and eagle eyed the merchandise.  Like, really, REALLY, looked it over.  And even though the person on the other side of that table has spent countless hours growing or crafting this thing in front of me, then after growing it, schlepped it down to a market to try and single-handedly sell it, who will sit there in all sorts of weather conditions, who have paid for the opportunity to be there, not being sure if they will make any money that day…

You know what I do (or have done)?  – I hem & haw.  I have picked up a zucchini and thought “meh.  They want a dollar for this tired old thing?  I don’t think so”

I hang on to my money at the market and when I stingily dole it out I feel like “Look at ME!!  Supporting the hard work of the People!”  and I think to myself “Self: This better be the best goshdarn zucchini I’ve ever had”

IN FACT.  I would go as far to say that sometimes, I have this feeling that this zucchini (or strawberry or whatever) better be freakin’ magical unicorn rainbow ponies because *I* have gone out of my way, outside the mainstream, whathaveyou, to shop local, farm-to-fork and I’ll tell you, I didn’t have to do that (insert privilege font).  And because I’m such an exemplary person for being here, I expect more, better, from this zucchini.  I want this zucchini to…. send me.   I could have just gone to the grocery store, but I have chosen (cue the angels singing) to come and support the Farmer’s Market.   Dang but I’m a good person.

Magical huh

And later that week (probably), I will go to a box grocery store, give a cursory glance to 4 zucchinis on their styrofoam tray covered in plastic, which have been touched by god-knows how many people, and maybe even think to myself “meh.  These probably won’t be that great, but whatya do?” and spend a few bucks on it without a second thought.

Perhaps right now you are thinking that I might be the biggest a-hole in the world.

Or you are laughing, because, DANG.  It’s true.  And even if you’re not guilty of it, then you’ve certainly seen it before.

Better be the BEST carrot EVER.

Better be the BEST carrot EVER.

So what is up with this?  My good friend recently started a little etsy shop.  She’s got a sweet little passion for cross stitch and a sassy sense of humor and has combined the two for her home business.  Well, she’s just getting started out and was telling me about doing this free giveaway to start to get her stuff out there.   So she runs this drawing for a free cross stitch, picks someone’s name, and lets the lady who won it know that she will be sending her a free, made-by-scratch, cross stitch in a frame (and of course she pays for shipping).

Next thing she knows the lady is haggling over the frame.  The FREE frame.  For the FREE thing she won.  That is made by my friend who has a day job also and is doing this little business on the side when she has time.

OHMAHGOD.

So let’s go back to food.  One thing that I don’t love about Farmer’s Markets is that it places our farmers in a weird position of needing to market themselves and be sales people.  Which is fine if you are in marketing and sales, but most of the farmers I know…. Well.  They know how to grow food.  And in our current time, farmers need a booth that not only needs to have amazing food (or product), they also have to brand it in a way that makes them look pinterest worthy.  Rustic/Urban/Farm Chic as well as good lookin’ food, oh, and make sure you don’t price it too high, and mostly give it away because, well, you are a person and you must be nice.  And you don’t want to take it home after shlepping it to the market.

The other thing I don’t like about the Farmer’s Markets is in a lot of places it’s become an “event” which is FINE (sort of).  And I love going to farmer’s markets as a Thing To Do on a Saturday or Sunday.  It’s social.  I see people.  I eat stuff.

But the dark side to this is that it’s not usually how we feed our families for the week.  I don’t think that most folks would consider the Farmer’s Markets the place to go to shop for that weeks grocery list.  I bet most folks don’t spend $50-$75 at the Farmer’s Market shopping for the week.  That may even sound like splurging.  (some of you may be thinking “what would I be coming home with if I spent $75 at the Farmer’s Market?)

And lastly, not only do our farmers at the market have to have enough jute rope, chalkboard rustic-ness, they also have to have REALLY good personalities and be “on” all the time.  Or else… Their food and product get judged quick by whether they smiled enough.

This one is even more interesting to me.  When I buy stuff in the store, I have no idea of the person who grew it or packaged it or put it on the shelf is an asshole.  Or having an off day.  Because I don’t have to interact at all with the producers of the product, I never base whether I buy it or not on any social interactions of the person who made it.  Instead I typically interact with store employees – who have usually been hired for a variety of reasons, one of them typically is how they deal with the public.  Which has NOTHING to do with food.  But Dang – my folks at the Farmer’s Market, more is expected of them.

I worry a bit that as a society we’ve bitten ourselves in the backside with the concept of the Farmer’s Market.

The concept – SO GOOD.

The reality is that there is still a clear separation of the Farmer’s Market and actually feeding our families.

So I have to make this a Butter Churn post, even though if you know me, then right about now we would be in a heated discussion about the rest of society and how can we be part of the solution, lol.

Because your farmers won’t have to market themselves the same way – instead they are going to do what they do best.  Grow Food.  The Butter Churn will take care of trying to look all pinteresty.  (wish us luck).  And you’ll be able to come in 6 days a week to get what you need, rather then try and remember what town had what market on what day.  We’ll still provide the social part though.  And I think we’re pretty nice.  I tend to do well with others (although Roxi is the gold star of this).  Thank goodness we can do that stuff though, because if you were relying on us to actually grow the food – well – We’d all go hungry.

I’d love to know your thoughts on this – are you also guilty of the occasional eagle-eye of produce at Farmer’s Markets?
OH and of course a plug.  Come by The Butter Churn late July and see how we are doing it the right way.

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