Wants You to Know
a Few Things.
[Originally published October 20, 2014.]
Welcome to the farmers’ market. Let’s you and I share a moment this fine morning and admire the beautiful organic broccoli I am offering for sale today. I’m going to risk immodesty and point out that I have grown some flawless broccoli here. Months ago, I planted it from seed. Have you ever seen a broccoli seed? They are tiny, near microscopic. Planting broccoli seeds involves squinting and tweezers and special lighting. Broccoli seedlings are needy little fuckers, like newborn babies. I had to get up and check the greenhouse multiple times a night for two weeks to be sure they didn’t freeze. I planted the seedlings outside in soil that I have amended so lovingly over the years with shit from my neighbor’s stinky-ass dairy farm that the federal government has labeled it “soil of national importance.” This is a real thing. Want to know how I keep weeds down without spraying? By turning the “soil of national importance” over every other week by hand, with a hoe, like Pa Ingalls—that’s how. I spent the better part of yesterday morning bent half over harvesting this shit with a produce knife. I washed it and cooled it and rose before my fucking rooster crowed this morning to truck it here to satisfy the market demand from people like you who became experts in agricultural methods and economics by reading a Michael Pollan book jacket five years ago at Barnes & Noble and I think it’s a total fucking bargain at $5 a bunch.
Yes, the fucking chickens are pasture raised. No, the fucking chickens aren’t grass-fed. Because they aren’t fucking ruminants, that’s why, not because I’m part of a secret rural conspiracy to disrupt the endocrine systems of America’s urban masses. Hens are omnivores; they eat grass, but they also need grain and may occasionally devour small rodents and snakes. Anyone that tells you different is lying, like that guy over there in the straw hat yelling “Everything picked fresh this morning!” That guy didn’t pick anything this morning. That guy spent his morning peeling UPC stickers off the peppers he bought from the produce wholesaler to resell to you.
That’s right. Farmers markets are the wild fucking west. There is no law here.
No, I don’t save seeds. That’s time-consuming nonsense for backyard gardeners. Yes, I’ve heard of Monsanto. I’m a farmer. I know about goddamn Monsanto. I also know the difference between GMOs and F1 hybrids, and I know that heirloom vegetables as an ideal are much more appealing to you, the consumer, than heirloom vegetables in all their ugly-ass expensive reality.
That bacon came from a pig named Ketchup. Yes, I name my pigs. Did your farmer great-grandpa have some arcane rule about not doing that? Please tell me more about what real farmers should and should not do. I don’t butcher the pigs myself. I load them in a trailer and take them to a processing facility. Yes, pushing four screaming 250-pound pigs up a ramp into the trailer is hard to do. Pigs are smart. They know what’s coming and they literally shit all over you.
Wait. You mean is it emotionally hard? You wonder if I, perhaps, feel guilty that providing the community with ethically raised alternatives to factory-farmed meat involves death?
No. No, I don’t.
I do know a lot about how to can things. I love canning. My old-fashioned mother-in-law taught me how. If you are not lucky enough to have an old-fashioned mother-in-law in your life, I’m going to have to ask you to Google this because it’s impossible to help the five other customers in line behind you who are quickly losing interest in buying things from me while I explain the nuances of this complicated process that can kill you if don’t do it right. Don’t fuck around with botulism. That’s what my mother-in-law says, anyway.
No, I won’t give you thirty dollars worth of produce for five bucks just because it’s the end of the market day and you are operating under the delusion that I will do anything to avoid hauling the leftover produce back to the farm. I refuse to give you a discount on principle because I know those shoes cost $200 and because anyone carrying a Vera Bradley handbag can afford to pay full price. I own a barn, lady—I wasn’t born in one. Besides, you’re wrong. I don’t take this shit back to the farm; I take it to the food bank and sleep the sleep of the just.
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