Pre-pandemic, Stein and I went to our local supermarkets and specialty grocers on a daily basis. But with COVID-19 precautions in place we’re doing our part to “Stay Home, Stay Healthy,” which means that neither of us is spending as much time shopping for food. And yes, that makes me really grumpy. But as I told Stein this week on Food for Thought, I’ve been a lot happier lately. Why?
For one thing, Country Farms, my neighborhood’s open-air farm stand, reopened for business. I can just drive up any day of the week, jump out and grab whatever produce I need. Then — sound the trumpets! — my neighborhood Saturday farmers market recently swung into business here in Edmonds and at the Edmonds Farmers Market.
Stein noted that while Tacoma’s farmers markets are also open, he’s been too busy wrangling cats at home in the Blanket-Fort Studio to get out there. So I encouraged him, and I encourage you: Go shop at your neighborhood farmers market! Not only for your own emotional benefit, but for the financial well-being of the many local farmers whose livelihoods depend on making hay while the sun shines (to say nothing of growing gorgeous greens and fresh fruit and raising chickens who lay fresh eggs).
“Is it a different experience these days?” Stein asked me. Yep. It sure is. Farmers markets are facing a new world of rules and regulations from their individual counties, cities and heath departments, but they’re doing their best to make the market-going experience a good one and a safe one, for the vendors and for us.
With restrictions on space, there are far fewer booths at the markets — but that number has been growing. Markets are limiting the number of customers shopping at one time, but don’t worry: while you might find a line to get in, it moves fast. Sorry, no tasting! And please don’t handle the merchandise: let the vendors do that for you. In addition to credit cards and cash (bring small bills if you can), many are offering no-contact pay options like Apple Pay and Venmo. It’s nice to see hand sanitizer stations on premise, and that vendors and customers are (for the most part) wearing face masks.
One more thing: As much as we all love the ability and convenience of going to our own neighborhood farmers markets, we also need to support Seattle’s iconic Pike Place Market. Use it or lose it, folks! Given the lack of tourists and downtown business, this pandemic has hit the Market especially hard. What’s new down there? Well, for one thing, you can take advantage of pre-ordering via the web, with drive-up curbside delivery service. For another, you can tune into a free livestreamed “Support the Market” event on Thursday, June 18, at 6:30 p.m. This event, offering music, food and stories, will launch the Market’s $3.5 million Power of Pike Place Recovery Campaign. Find more information on all of that, right here.