It is in our psyches – going to market in the morning to bring home the freshest whole foods. In fact, here in Pittsburgh, the largest food retailer has special stores with “Market” in its name, and in the South East, another grocer chain has opened stores with both “Fresh” and “Market” in its name.  But the real fresh markets are the farmers’ markets where local farmers – real farmers with names like Greg, or Alice – come to sell their fresh goods that were in the ground yesterday or in the case of the fresh free-range eggs, in the bodies of their mother this week.  They came to market in pickup trucks from less than 100 miles away, and there is no middle man or woman.  The fresh foods still have the energy that they were created with, and since most of these farmers are organic and/or practice sustainable practices, the soil has not been depleted by a mono-culture and chemicals.

Thank you farmers

So today, we just want to say thank you to these farmers who were at the old Firehouse in the Strip District in Pittsburgh this morning.  And as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Yesterday, as I was finishing the coursework for IIN, I had the pleasure of listening to one of the instructors speak to Whole Foods.  Perhaps it is because I spend so much time at the local Whole Foods in Wexford, that I tend to not think about what a “whole food” is. It is easy to confuse nutrition bars or food-based supplements with whole foods. Whole food is something where you eat the whole food – so the whole grain of rice, or the whole sugar cane, or the whole pig.  So an egg is a whole food, celery is whole food, peppers are whole foods – a chicken breast is a part of whole food – no bone, or organ meat, etc.  As they used to say – parts are parts. And a can of spray “cheese”……..

Know you Farmers

The beauty of this market is the energy of it, and the local farmers are there selling their own goods.  The Amish farmer with his chickens and eggs, the Mott family farm where the owners are there to answer you questions about the difference between sustainable agriculture and organic – and exactly what they sprayed on their peaches and when.  As I was putting the food away this morning, I could not help but feel the energy coming off of it and marvel at the clean, crisp feel of the produce. I started my working career as a produce clerk for a supermarket, and I can tell you, I never saw food THAT fresh coming into the store, let alone leaving it. As far as what they do to meat in the backroom…we just won’t go there.

Why is it important to know your farmer?  There are a number of reasons – first, you know what you are getting – is it really grass-fed and what does that mean?  You might be shocked that your farmer might explain as mine did today that the cost of grass-fed beef is higher because the cost of corn is higher – even though the cattle are not eating corn.  He explained that the cost of hay is higher because there is more demand to grow corn – think about that as you put ethanol into your SUV to drive to the market and complain about the cost of grass-fed beef.  Or he might tell you that you need to come earlier to get eggs – it kind of reinforces that there are only so many eggs his chickens can produce.

2021 Update

In migrating this blog post to a new site, and editing the content in the posts, sadly Farmers at Fireside has gone away.  Many of the same vendors can be found in Sewickley PA on Saturday from 9 AM to 1 PM every week.  We also get weekly orders from the Family Cow in eastern PA.  They deliver to the Staples parking lot in Cranberry Township every Friday.  Even during global pandemics.

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