I was trying to buy salsa at the Pepper Place farmer’s market. I asked the woman who made the stuff if I would regret getting the hot instead of the regular*. She assured me I would be fine and was turning to get a sample for me to taste when we were interrupted by a man asking about the kale he had just purchased. “Are these organic?” His tone was accusatory. The salsa maker told him that they don’t use chemical pesticides. That was not a satisfactory answer. “What about nitrates? What kind of fertilizer did they use?” She had the look of someone who had answered the same type of questions for hours on end. I was reminded of wine makers at an industry tasting. She told him that she wasn’t sure about the fertilizer but she could ask. He huffed and walked away with his bag of greens. “Sir,” she said. “Sir, I can’t promise about the…” and he was gone. I guess he didn’t care what the answer was.
Have we come so far in our service of our temples that old ladies have to be snipped at over soil content at an open air market of local growers? Tone aside, there was something proforma about the questioning that called to mind airport security. “Did you pack your own bags?” “Did anyone ask you to carry any items for them?” “Were your bags out of your sight at any time?” Due diligence is in asking the question knowing that the answers are unlikely to garner any information of use. He had asked, and could pat himself on the back for caring about things like a good citizen.
In a move that is sure to create ripples in the copyright pond, the farmer’s market located in the courtyard of the abandoned and refurbished Dr. Pepper bottling plant has decided to sell beverages with the word “Pepper” on the labels.
The Winery at the Pepper place has some wines made from local grapes, a peach wine made from Chilton county produce, and several traditional vitis vinifera bottlings made with juice shipped in from California. I wish I could tell you the quality of the wines, but a tasting was at nine in the morning was not expected. There was a coffee quality about them all that I’m assuming didn’t come from the wine. I need to make a tasting visit sometime soon. As to any copyright issues, I don’t think multinational corporations bother protecting their names anymore.
The market hasn’t gotten into full swing yet. The variety of produce is limited by the season and the chef’s demos don’t start until May 5, but in the next few weeks, expect full bloom.
I don’t care if my food is organic or not. I think that non-mass produced organic vegetables generally taste better, if for no other reason than that small organic farmers tend to sell locally and so their product is fresher. That’s why I love these small community farmer’s markets. I admit to being baffled by a man who was worried that his kale might be bad for him. I wasn’t fast enough with my camera, but I saw, amidst the crowd carrying their recyclable shopping bags, a woman in her early to mid twenties. She was sipping something from a McDonald’s cup.
It was probably innocent: she was on her way to the fresh market and wanted a coke and why not. It was on the way. That’s kind of boring though. I like to think she bought that McDonald’s drink and brought it to the market in hopes that someone would “tsk” in minor outrage. Minor outrage is so funny. I hope that kale buyer saw her too. Troll on, young lady.
*Not only was I fine, I have a new favorite salsa. Unfortunately, we ate it and the jar is off in some land fill specifically not producing nitrates right now. I’ll get more at the next market and publish ordering info for those interested. Update: The perfect salsa is from Spradlin Farm in Vinemont, Alabama – (256) 734-6419. Tell ’em Ben sent you! They will have no idea what that means, but tell them anyway. Any web site that boasts “Clean Restrooms Available!” is alright with me.