For the beauty of the earth.

After reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle late last summer, Mike and I began to regularly get up on Saturday mornings and go to the Farmer’s Curb Market downtown. The winter is not the best time to go to the Farmer’s Market, but we continued to go and buy pita bread, at least, from a local bakery, and to get greenhouse vegetables from time to time. We like the sense of community there, that some of the vendors have begun to recognize us and that we always see friends from church there, doing their part to support the local economy. We even had a presentation about buying locally one Wednesday night at church, which led to some good discussion. (We’ve seen even more people from church there since then.)

Now that spring has rolled back around, I have been purchasing whatever was available in order to try it out. We have adjusted our menus a bit (just a bit) to incorporate what is available with the idea of eating more seasonally. Early spring means things like asparagus and turnips started showing up. I didn’t buy asparagus, because Mike despises asparagus (so sad), but I got some turnips (which neither of us had tried before) and prepared them using this recipe. (Except I think I used olive oil instead of butter.) Verdict? We liked them a lot. I, especially, thought that they were pretty great. This week’s big find was rhubarb, something else I’d never tried. I made a Strawberry Rhubarb Pie last night, and it was wonderful. (Is it okay for me to say that? I mean, all I did was put it together, but the rhubarb/strawberry combination was wonderful. I even lattice-topped it! It was really really wet, though. I would probably cook it a little longer next time.) We both had it again for breakfast this morning.

Speaking of strawberries, we have not bought much fresh fruit at the grocery store this winter, and I don’t know when I have enjoyed strawberry season more. When I was younger, there were always strawberries available, because we froze strawberries from my grandmother’s garden and ate them year-round. Waiting for strawberries this year, watching them start to appear at the Farmer’s Market – that was a huge treat. I made a strawberry tart last weekend that we enjoyed with friends at a cookout (using this tart crust recipe, which was highly praised), we made strawberry shortcake several times, and we enjoyed strawberries for brunch on Mother’s Day (which also featured eggs, challah, and flowers from the Farmer’s Market) and with some other friends. We have been living it up this strawberry season, is what I am saying. If our jeans are more snug than they were a month ago, I am here to tell you that it has been worth it. Strawberry season comes and goes so quickly, and you should take advantage of it while you can.

We still buy produce from the grocery store, and we weren’t able to plant a garden this year because we will be moving, but we have taken steps to eat more seasonally, and it has been a great gift to me. Each week I approach the aisles of the Farmer’s Market with anticipation, and it has given me a greater sense of appreciation for the bounty of this earth that God has given us.

It’s funny how taking the time to be mindful of things makes me a more reverent person. When I was little, my dad would, from time to time, take me and my brother out from school and give us a day with him at the mall or at the fair or in his college classes. I think he was trying to teach me about what is really important, and I am thankful, now, for those days. Taking walks in the park instead of another night on the couch gives me the chance to appreciate the trees and the squirrels and the stars. Instead of rushing home, I have a drink with some friends after school, and am given the chance to laugh until I begin to tear up. In the same vein, taking the time to think about what we are eating and where it comes from has given me the chance to appreciate the bright colors of fruits and vegetables, eggs and cheese on a Saturday morning, after years of being desensitized to them at the grocery store.

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