Does it make me a bad person if I confess that I don’t like farmers’ markets?
I mean, is there anything friendlier than a farmers’ market? It’s where the city and the country meet in perfect harmony. It is one of the few places left on earth that are beyond the reach of colossal megacorporations. They’re just ma and pa makin’ pies and sellin’ ‘em to the city folk. Everybody’s in a good mood. It’s a happy place.
So what’s not to like? Well, here are a few things.
The thing I like about shopping at a place like Safeway is that nobody who works there has a vested interest in the place. It’s a job, they’re making their hourly wage, and they’re just peddling stuff other people made. But at a FM (just simplifying), the vendor has a real interest in everything in front of him or her. They want to sell their stuff — they NEED to sell their stuff. It’s retailing at its most naked and desperate. Honestly, I feel a little guilty if I don’t buy stuff. I mean, the people seem so nice, but most of the time I just don’t have any desire to buy homemade apricot jam, and at double the price of the apricot jam at Safeway. And, I don’t like apricot jam.
When I go to an FM, I spend most of my time trying desperately to not make eye contact. Eye contact says “hello, I might be interested in purchasing your product”, even when I have no interest in it at all. Sometimes, it results in the vendor saying something like “Hello, can I interest you in a yo-yo ball” (which is just a balloon filled with water)? I’m inclined to just go “pfft” and walk on, but that would be rude. It’s so much easier just to not make eye contact at all, which means when I go to an FM I spend most of my time looking at people’s feet, which is disturbing because everyone these days wears sandals.
And let’s be honest … there is a lot of crap at an FM. There are precious few farmers at a farmers’ market. A lot of the crafts are just tacky (in my opinion) and some of the stuff is gimmicky new-agey rubbish. (Scented soy candles? Seriously?)
My final objection to FMs is that … and you may not believe this, but it’s true … I kinda feel badly for some of the people there. I mean, there’s always somebody playing music, which they may have written and recorded. They sing their plaintive little songs and hope somebody shells out a few bucks to buy their CD. And there’s always somebody selling a self-published book. The writer sits at a table, his labor of love splayed out in front of him on a table. They always look so lonely. How do you even approach somebody like that? Do you ask him what his book is all about, and if it doesn’t interest you, do you just walk away? That seems hurtful. Better to just walk right on past, looking down at the ground and all those disgusting sandled feet, which is preferable to shelling out $15 for a book I would never read.
I’m glad people like farmers’ markets. They’re warm and friendly and nice. People meeting people, all that kind of stuff. So enjoy … but I’ll just go to Safeway, thank you.


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