Every Sunday, rain or shine, from noon until 3PM (at the corner of SW Boulevard and Rainbow) there is the fantastic Rosedale Community Farmer's Market.
Oh, the sights. Oh, the smells! I was immediately attacked by the smell of fresh basil. There are few things in this world better than fresh basil... but wait, there are organic peaches? They're from Georgia, but hey... Oh My Goodness! There's a couple over here, Ariel and Robin - they're making local organic sourdough bread... they don't add yeast, they air-ferment their bread. That was one of the best pieces of toast (with fresh butter) I've tasted in years!
I met the delightful Joe - who appears to be one of the RFM organizers, he immediately frisked me off into the kitchen to taste turnips and peas. They've got cooking demonstrations every week - so that the shoppers at the market can taste some of the best fresh local green cuisine in the world. I've been recruited to be one of the green "chefs" to cook and teach in August. This is one step closer to my dream restaurant.
Channel 5 news was out with their reporter and camera crew. I wonder what they're saying about the Rosedale Farmer's Market? Good things, I hope. These folks are passionate and friendly!
The best part of the Rosedale Farmer's Market, though, were all the people walking around in these bright green and orange t-shirts which say, "Beans and Greens." What's that all about? The Kansas City Star's press release explains it all. You can use your food stamps (now called SNAP - supplemental nutrition food program) to buy produce at select farmer's markets across town. Not only that, but users get a two-fer with their purchase! So, buying fresh organic food doesn't have to cost you - not if you're going to the farmer's markets who will take your Vision Card (Kansas) or Quest Card (Missouri).
Someone somewhere realized what I figured out the first week I worked as a social work intern - there's no way for poor people to live a "healthy" life when what they get from the food bank is not real food! They get food that's highly processed, loaded with sodium, chemical preservatives, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, and more additives than silly-putty. A man with chronic high blood pressure is given in his monthly commodity bag: 2 packages hot dogs, 2 lbs. bologna, American cheese food product slices, a dozen cans of canned beans, corn and peas, white hot dog buns, white bread, crispy rice cereal, a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa. *blink* You're kidding, right? That's supposed to be food?
Not to mention, food prices at the market in poor neighborhoods are often higher than in the suburbs, while the quality of the produce and "fresh" foods is much lower. In fact, I used to know a man who delivered food to the supermarkets on the big refrigerated trucks. He told me what I'd wondered for years - they deliberately put the worst, most rotten foods on the trucks going to the worst neighborhoods. He said, "The companies know where that food is going. They know that if we send the wilted lettuce to the 'burbs, the store will reject it and send it back. So we put that stuff on the truck headed for the projects. They never turn back the food there. They take what they get."
It's a good day when I hear that someone, somewhere is paying attention. Poor people don't deserve rotten food. They should have the same freedom you or I have to select fresh, ripe, wholesome foods that are grown by people and not by chemicals. Poor people deserve real food, and they deserve to know that they can grow their own real food. They don't have to swallow the poison we try to feed them - and now local programs are working together to make good nutrition more possible for the most disenfranchised people out there.
So, spread the word: take your food stamps to the farmer's market. Buy real food.
I'm off to roast some turnips and crookneck squash, seasoned with fresh basil and onion.