Sunday, August 17, 2008

Market Sense

I am a Sunday shopper. Well, the market that I go to is on Saturday, but so I guess you should call me a rubbernecker, a gawker, an ogler. I just love looking at the vegetables in their colorful multitude. Genetic diversity is often antithetical to profits in the world of agrobusiness. After you develop the best tomato, it is most efficient, parsimonious and therefore profitable to grow but only that tomato.

But, at the farmer’s market, the weird, special, and heirloom are king. Genetic diversity is the reason that we have chihuahas, butterflies and red heads. Then there are the oddities like Pere David’s Deer, ginkos and my sister-in-law. (Well, not that last one.) For the first two, these species remain extant thank to us people. What’s the point? Genetic diversity can be lost, species gone forever; but people can also help avoid this. Seed saving, buying and growing heirloom veg and animals help retains this diversity. And, why not? They are lovely.
I am in essence shallow. And, when I go to the market, I want those lovelies, the green striped tomatoes, the deep purple eggplants. Some people look for nutrition; I look for form and hue. Like the 17th century Dutch Tulip collector, I desire these vegetables for their beauty but also specialness. Of course, I am a dilettante in this, completely below the level of a mania. So, yes, I do eat plain purple eggplant. But, when I see the perfect sampling of heirloom eggplants, who cares if I already have 2 in my bag; I need them. Alright, that makes it sound like I am verging on mania. But, I have my husband to keep me in check. That and the fact, that I am one of dozens and dozens of heirloom maniacs at the market on any given Saturday.

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