Take Me Out to the Mar-ket
I’ve spoken a couple times recently with a local farmer friend about the regular season of professional baseball wrapping up, leading the way for some of the best entertainment of the year in the form of the MLB playoffs in October. It dawned on me that this timeframe more or less coincides with the stretch run of the Brownsville Farmers’ Market and other markets up and down the Valley. What two pastimes are more richly associated with our country’s past and present than baseball’s pennant race and the local farmers’ market providing fresh local food to all members of the community? The weeks to come mark some of the most exciting moments on the diamond and the most delicious offerings from area farms.
The postseason means that teams no longer play in their respective divisions and only the very best that have endured the long season remain by merit of the hard work put in through spring and summer. Offerings at market represent both the fruits that we’ve been enjoying all summer and the dramatic and distinctive food that took ripening over months, at a place where the community comes together with no semblance of division.
Ball players pull up their socks and adjust their hats with intense focus and great joy at representing their clubs on the highest stage. Managers devise the most balanced and effective lineup from top to bottom while coming up with words of inspiration for their pitchers, fielders, and batters. Local farmers, bakers, and craft makers buckle down and look to finish strong, putting out the products that will be sure to please and expending every last bit of energy needed to catch the eye of market goers. These same supporters of local food plan and prepare for the fall ritual of stocking and preserving the perfect foods that help to carry a household proudly through the offseason.
The centerfielder with slender carrots for legs bounds across the thinning field for fly balls and leftover harvest in the gaps and rows. A catcher behind the plate calls signs with fingers held like green beans and tired knees dug into the dirt like potatoes. Pitchers stand tall on the mound like late season corn and hurl blazing jalapeño peppers aimed right at the salad bowl located at a predetermined location behind home plate. The Batters stand tall at said plate, anticipating what will come before them, the ball appearing big and sweet as a melon if they guess right, tiny and elusive like a cherry tomato if caught fooled.
The ballgame is a family event, just like the farmers’ market, and is a perfect time to come together now that the kids are back in school. Walk down as a group, make the rounds at the booths, and stay a while to have a word with your friends and neighbors. Be ready as vendors make calls and gestures like umpires making a connection with all that gather on Main Street, keeping things interesting and injecting more flavor into an already dramatic display. Or might they be like vendors walking up and down aisles of a stadium, tossing fresh food with a savvy wit and a heartfelt dedication? Be it baseball or market, these are the old fashioned institutions that let us use our imaginations, interact with our surroundings, and visit with community – opportunities fading away in our modern world.
The weather may be getting cooler, the rains may be upon us, but the Brownsville Farmers’ Market is going strong and providing what may well be the most best stretch of the season. See you there on Saturday. Steeeeeeeeeeerrrrike three!