Monday, November 25, 2013

To Market, To Market...

This whole gardening / slow food / local produce thing started for me the first time I went to the Kuraby Markets last autumn. Well, that's not strictly true; when my kids were little I had a strong sense of food politics and nutrition, but a divorce, a tight budget and transitioning from a full time stay-at-home Mum to a full-time-working-outside the home Mum brought cost and convenience to the top of my food priorities list.

Don't get me wrong, we didn't fall headlong into the SAD (standard American / Australian diet). Our bread was still multigrain, the kids lunch boxes were still full of fruit and veggies and I still cooked our evening meals myself rather than relying on frozen or pre-prepared foods. The difference was that instead of doing some of my shopping at Mrs Flannery's or an organic farmers' market at the crack of dawn, my grocery choices were limited to whatever Aldi, Woolies or Coles Online had in stock. And for a while there, I probably relied a little to heavily on commercial (ie chemically laden) sauces and seasonings.

Then, last autumn, a friend of mine posted a link to the Kuraby Markets page on Facebook. This was followed by what can only have been the hand of god - I woke up at 6:30 the next Saturday. Let me make this clear: NOTHING wakes me at 6:30 on a weekend. Even on a weekday it takes three separate alarms and about 15 hits of the snooze button to get me out of bed. So the fact that I was up so early for no apparent reason was nothing short of miraculous. Not only was I up, I felt like getting out and doing something. And so I found myself saying to my morning-lark husband "Hey d'you want to go check out this market?"

Little did I suspect that this would become a weekly outing. To be honest, it was the financial rewards that first got me. That first Saturday, I bought our whole week's worth of fresh fruit and veg for about half the price I usually paid (and I still get a bad case of sticker shock on the odd occasion when I have to buy produce from the supermarket). And the quality was amazing. Bunches of fresh herbs four times the size you'd get at Woolies for less than half the price! Three red capsicums (Apples' favourite) for $2! Leeks by the bunch! I was in budget heaven.

I returned the next week, and the next, and the next. In fact I have only missed 2 or 3 Saturdays in over six months. The kids love to go there too - I remember one cold dark morning gently stroking ChilliPepper's arm and whispering "Do you want to go to the markets or stay in bed?", to be told, very sleepily, "I wouldn't miss it for the world..." 

But our enjoyment of the markets now goes far beyond the financial. We have found so many treasures. My heirloom yellow pear tomatoes (by far the most vigorous in my garden) were brought him from the markets as tiny baby seedlings. Apples no longer uses her pocket money to buy lollies - instead she spends it at the rock and fossil stall and is building up quite the geological collection. I always bring home a bag of sweet n salty kettle corn for my husband; a little weekly love-gift. And just this week I found the perfect Xmas gift for my beloved Mother-in-law.

Most importantly, the markets, along with my garden, started me really thinking about food again. About where it has come from, how it is farmed, its' impact on the environment and the welfare of the animals involved in its' production. Shopping at the markets gives me the chance to make better choices about the food I bring home, and learning more about the stallholders and figuring out who has the best and most local produce is an adventure in itself!

So Apples and I have decided to start a series of posts featuring our favourite Kuraby Markets foodies. Those selling the delicious, the unusual, the local and the wonderful. I can't promise how regular they will be, but look out for posts titled "Our Favourite Foodies". And if you are in the area, stop by Kuraby markets and see why we love them so much. 

Trust me, if it gets me out of bed early every single Saturday, it MUST be good!

- MotherHen

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