Farmers and their markets

All the good stuff - especially truffle (front and centre)


Food has been on my mind lately. When is it not? Some would say I was quite obsessed by it. Sometimes I have been thinking about feeding my child. I didn’t completely understand the amount of time and energy that would be put in, usually by me, to plan, cook and arrange, meals for my child. Not always by me. Every morning, Benedict’s porridge is served by his daddy. It’s their time, breakfast. It is a two-fold joy. Usually, it is a smooth, easy time. It allows them to bond over AM and the news of the day and have a bit of time together. After Benedict has finished his own porridge, he usually helps himself to mine too, no matter how much he ate of his own.

Mostly, the rest of the day, when not at childcare, Benedict’s meals are my responsibility. And sometimes, it is a big responsibility. It is especially hard when he won’t eat. Every mother struggles with feeding a disinterested child.

The other thing I am thinking a lot about, is where our food comes from. Nearly everything fresh, that comes into this house, is from somewhere nearby that I could go to if I wanted to, to see where it is made.  This is because I go to great lengths, only to buy food from the farmers’ markets and from local producers. Now, sure, I do buy oats from a big manufacturer, and I buy Weetbix and vegemite, but every piece of meat, every apple, every potato; I know the provenance of. I could list the producers, their names, the address of their farm. If it isn’t there, we don’t buy it. We don’t eat it.

We are extremely lucky. Each week we buy our basic requirements at the Farmers’ Market. Milk, butter, cream, olive oil, cheese, honey, eggs, mushrooms, smoked trout, beef, chicken, duck, lamb, small-goods, vegies, fruit, especially bananas. Little luxuries like handmade chocolate, sometimes other treats. Most of it comes from near by farms. Some of it wins prizes at shows, food fairs and exhibitions. All of it tastes fantastic. We have spent years now building relationships with our produce providers, week by week. When I returned to Canberra in 2008 I was overjoyed to find the markets right there and they have grown into a fantastic one stop shop.

What makes me really glad, is week by week, my child builds a picture of what good food looks like. He get sausages on a toothpick from the beef farmers, he cages another way a few stalls away from the Italian small-goods maker from Wodonga. He has a banana that was picked this week in the Tweed Valley, he eats an apple from Hillside orchard. Stall holders say hello to him, wave and smile. He has a top morning’s entertainment and food. He sees live chickens, cow hides, trees in pots, potatoes covered in dirt, farmers with their working hands. He can also see what seasonality looks like. He will eventually recognise the changes in fruit and vegetables, notice the special delights like truffles and peony roses that are available for short glorious windows of time in the year and then not again, til next year.

This ritual, this weekly shop, is so much part of our family life, that if we miss it, we don’t quite know what to do, or what to eat. I hope this important part of our life where we reconnect with where food comes from, what blood sweat and tears go into making it, what raw, good food looks like, will hold my boy in good stead for the rest of his life. It will certainly give him delicious meals.