Farmer's Market Junkie
I'm a sucker for local food. I just figure, if it's grown in soil close to home, it's kinda like eating home itself. Which is what ecosystems do. As Barbara Kingsolver writes in her book The Poisonwood Bible, "the forest eats itself, and lives forever".
Here in Hilo, Hawaii, I get to ride my bike to the Farmer's Market every week, all year long. In the tropics, there's no reason to stop growing juicy tomatoes and delicately-crunchy cucumbers just because winter is approaching. I love it. I eat the freshest, organic, local food every damn day here... and yes, sometimes I look weirdly pale in photos.
Confession: I did not eat well on my cross-country bike tour in 2011. For most of the four months that I was traveling by bicycle, I subsisted on Pop-Tarts, Clif Bars, tortilla chips, and PBJ sandwiches. Judge me as you will, but I challenge you to go our and try to find good, unprocessed food on the backroads of rural America. It's tricky. "Healthy", for me, became the bowl of overripe fruit beside the gas station cash register.
Here's an excerpt & photos from my blog in September of 2011, celebrating the rarity of fresh produce that I now enjoy every day:
"There's nothing quite like fresh vegetables. The satisfying crunch, the taste of all those vitamins in your mouth, the wonderful, energetic feeling you get afterwards from natural sugars... But half the fun (at least) has to be harvesting them from the garden.
Much to my dismay, the opportunities for fresh-harvested fruits & veggies on this trip have been few and far between. I managed to stop at several farm stands in Oregon, and was fortunate enough to catch a tiny farmer's market in Twin Bridges, Montana... but aside from those two states, it's been grocery store fare. Or, worse, gas station food options (Sometimes they'll have a stack of browning bananas at the check out counter, but that's if your lucky).
I had no idea when I met Shelly last week that she was a Master Gardner. I didn't know she had incredible organic yields coming out of her backyard, didn't know she used to bicycle tour (alone!), and had no clue that she started a school in a small village in the mountains of Ecuador. All I knew was that she was breezing past me on her road bike, down a mountain pass in Colorado, and she had a brightly-colored "Alaska" cycling jersey on. "Hey, that's my homestate!" I shouted before she could zoom out of earshot.
As it turns out, she invited me over for sourdough pancakes at her home in Boulder on Saturday morning, and I ended up spending most of the day with her and her friends. In Shelly's words, it was a "fab, FAB day". :) Here is a photo from our exploits to a nearby organic farm, run by Bob.
Bob had some of the most delicious corn I've EVER tasted, a variety called "Peaches and Cream"... for good reason. It tasted like the cob was bursting with Half 'n Half! Which may sound disgusting, but it was definitely not. :D
It's always great to make new friends on the road! Thank you to Shelly for her wonderful hospitality and friendship. It was great to get my hands dirty again, and leave with my belly full of fresh beets, corn, and apples."