Sunday, May 19, 2013

Harvest Time

This week I had the chance to take a day off from work. And boy did I need it!! I was feeling stressed and overwhelmed in personal life and at work. I needed a day to catch my breath. I needed a day for me.
I decided to go to Jaemor Farms. Jaemor Farms is a farm that offers their own fruits and vegetables in season and produce from other local farms and farms around the world. I've been there before but I must admit, I don't go as often as I should. I actually forget that it's there. The great thing about going to the farm is it's open year round and it's a very unique experience.
Shopping at Jaemor is different than shopping at Publix, Kroger or Wal-Mart. There are no automatic doors, air conditioning, or bag boys wearing crisp, clean uniforms. There are no sprinkler systems watering the vegetables and mimicking thunderstorms. It's a simple market with simple, real foods.
As I walked through the open doors, I was taken back in time to my childhood. My mother used to shop at Whaley's in Tampa. It was similar to Jaemor's, a unique market with local flair. I remember going to Whaley's with my mother and helping her pick butter beans and peas. I can remember thinking that Whaley's wasn't clean. The floor was concrete and there were bees and bugs buzzing around. Little did I know as a child, the produce my mother was buying at Whaley's was better than what we could get at a chain supermarket. It was real food with no pesticides or GMOs.
I started making my way through the store and I was overjoyed at what I saw! I must have looked like a fool. I picked up the produce, felt it, put it to my nose to smell it and let out a huge Awwwwwww (with my eyes closed). The tomatoes were bright red, tender and smelled like dirt. The asparagus was firm and stood at attention. The strawberries were deep red, plump and deliciously sweet. I was in food slut heaven! The place where only food sluts go!
I continued through the store and passed the homemade breads, fried pies, cakes, ice cream, jams, salsa and dressings. I also found the local dairy section where the local milk and butter rested in a cool refrigerator. I couldn't resist buying strawberry preserves, raspberry jam and REAL butter.
As I approached the check out counter, a sense of pride came over me. I was proud that my mother took me to Whaley's as a child and proud that she loved local, real food. I felt proud that I was returning to the ways of my childhood.
I also felt a connection with the other shoppers, the workers and the owners. We all want the same thing-access to real food, to know where our food comes from and to support local farmers.
As I left Jaemor's, sadness began to set in when I realized I was the youngest shopper there. The majority of the shoppers were elderly and middle aged. There were no mothers with young children. There were no children at all. Maybe it's because it was a Friday and not a weekend. Maybe it was because it was mid afternoon and school wasn't out yet. Maybe it's because people my age and younger don't care for good healthy foods, the community and local farmers. Whatever the reason, it saddens me that there are few Jaemor Farms and multiple chain supermarkets.
I got in my car and drove down the long driveway heading to the highway. I was going home with a trunk full of good food and a heart full of memories! I was now refreshed, relaxed and completely content. My day off was well worth it!