When I was a kid, at least a couple of times every autumn and at least once in early summer, we would get in my dad’s old Econoline van or my mom’s Valiant and drive over the bridges that would take us from North Vancouver and into Richmond to Lulu Island. We would stop at the farms to buy produce. In the autumn it would be squash – we would come home with a big box that would sit in the cool of our basement and would last us all winter. In early summer we would pick big buckets of strawberries from which my mother would make freezer jam – very little tastes better on hot buttered toast than the ice cold sweetness of strawberry freezer jam. As I grew up, and the urban sprawl that is Richmond encroached on the farmlands, the trips to Lulu Island dwindled down to nothing. For a long time, the only vegetables and fruits that came into my kitchen came from the supermarket. Recently, I started frequenting Farmers’ Markets. The produce is wonderful but I find them expensive. Farmer’s markets have become trendy and the products, while undeniably delicious and top quality, are not, in my experience, for everyone. There are so many people who have incomes unable to support purchasing the best produce.
Markets in other parts of the world are different. The markets in Sicily are filled with the best fruit and vegetables, fish, meat, cheese, coffee, and so many other things yet the prices are affordable even for the poverty stricken – and Sicily, with its 25% unemployment, definitely have people who are poverty stricken.
Market day in our small town is on Tuesdays. From 8am to 1pm, one corner of Cianciana is filled with bright colours, aromatic smells, and the sharp sounds of the vendors hawking their wares.