What's not to love about the farmers markets?
As a society, we've become incredibly disconnected with our food supply, but buying directly from the farmer helps restore our roots.
Sure, some of us urban dwellers may have a tomato plant or two, perhaps a few herbs growing in the yard or a small plot somewhere.
But for the most part, we expect to get corn from the can and strawberries from the freezer section of our grocery store.
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And let's not even get started on a pound of hamburger or a gallon of milk. (But here's a hint, those items are not naturally wrapped in plastic.)
But many of us only are a generation or two from the farm. Maybe that's why we're so hot on the idea of farmers markets.
It's not the same as growing your own food, but it's a chance to rub elbows with the men and women of the soil who bring food to your table.
With that in mind, here's the top five things we love about farmers markets:
No. 5 -- We like the atmosphere. We like wandering around in the open air and enjoying the entertainment. We like chatting with the vendors and perusing the wares. It's like no other shopping experience.
No. 4 -- We like the variety of crops. There are more than300 crops grown in the Mid-Columbia, and most of them make an appearance during the market season. When buying radishes at the grocery store, for example, you're pretty much limited to the little red ones. Who knows what you might find at the farmers market? An elongated French Breakfast radish isn't out of the question.
No. 3 -- We like the notion that this week we're actually going to eat all those healthy fruits and vegetables. (The doctor will be so proud.)
No. 2 -- We like the idea that the food we buy today could have been in the ground or on the tree this very morning. Unless you grow them in your garden and eat the raspberries right off the bush, it's hard to beat the freshness of the farmersmarket.
And the No. 1 thing we absolutely love about the farmers market? We love our farmers.
We love living in the middle of an agricultural bonanza.
We probably don't say it enough, but we recognize the vital role agriculture plays in our economy.
The Tri-Cities has for a long time hung its hat on theHanford hook, but the truthis ag is a mighty power in the Mid-Columbia.
The state claims a $35 billion food and agriculture industry that employs 160,000 people and contributes 11 percent to the state's economy.
In 2007, Benton County farms contributed $526 million to that total, and $467 million came from Franklin County.
Sure, we like food, but we have a deep respect for the people who bring it to us. We're looking forward to another healthful, happy season at the marketplace.