Saturday, October 24, 2009

Supporting Your Farmer's Market and more ....

BoylefarmersA forgotten habit of the past?

Today I was reminded of the Saturday morning ritual, as a child, of being dragged off to do the week’s shopping. It was something I did not like at all until it was all over and we went into the cafe to have some late breakfast or early lunch.

Each Saturday morning, when I do not have a group to guide, has become a habit of setting of for Boyle, our nearest town, for the Farmer’s Market in front of King House, a heritage landmark of Boyle and a lovely safe place to hold a farmer’s market.

My old habit, was like many of us now, off to the big town and the big supermarkets. Shopping is a conveyor belt habit with the intent of getting the lowest prices and the fastest time and barely a glance at the other people shopping and the staff at check out.

Somehow, I now hope I never do that again

It does mean I now spend a bit more money on my groceries, or maybe not, as I find I am portion controlling to keep within my food budget so maybe I am not on healthier food and healthier portions.

Social Shopping

First, the farmer’s market does have the best food with its organic produce, fresh fish, hand made cheeses, and straight out of the oven baking, plus a load of plants to assist home growing too.

Regular visiting also becomes entertainment both with the familiarity with the stallholders and the exchange with the same weekly shoppers who have re-discovered how this old habit of Saturday shopping is actually quite wholesome.

and then there’s the other shopping

Its unlikely that all of our consumer shopping needs can be satisfied through a farmer’s market shop, but Boyle is a lovely small town, one that can be walked around with ease.

Its supermarket is a Super Valu branch, a unique supermarket idea as the supermarkets are franchised and not a chain, and are somewhere between a convenience store and a large hyper-supermarket. The best part is that Super Valu is a creative and organic enlargement of the former town grocery shops. The owners and staff are usually local families so they are quite community too. I often find myself in conversations with people there. For a stranger it must be a mystery how so many aisles can be filled with so many trolley pushers at a standstill having wee little ceilis.

A future for the little shops?

Modern shopping is many countries has taken trade away from small shopkeepers who just cannot compete with pricing and convenience. A supermarket shopping experience probably takes a fifth of the time of going to small shops. However, how many of us go to the supermarket more than once a week? Its seems the craft of planning and budgeting for a weekly shopping experience is largely lost, even with people in remote country places who now seem to think nothing of taking their 4 x 4 into town 3 or 4 times a week to get a few things.

My suggestion coming up is hard for the many people who’s working lives have now been put onto shift work and often inclusive of Saturday morning, but if your lifestyle has a Saturday morning free, do consider using this for what could become a very important revitalising time of your week.

Boyle is a town where the small shops have been closing and it fast became a town of boarded up shops, but Boyle is a pretty small Irish country town. It has a convenient rail station and good bus service. Some enterprising people are coming up with great ideas. Store rents are currently very low and people are moving in with arts-crafts-eco-mind-body-spirit type enterprises. I can see Boyle going the route of Glastonbury over the next 10 years as it is convenient to several incredible ancient sacred and heritage sites.

a lifestyle

I arrive in Boyle on Saturday morning at around 10:00 am and take about 2 to 3 hours to completely savour the experience of shopping there. My goal is to get all I need for the week ahead.

Farmer’s market, Super Valu, little shops for personals and gifts for upcoming events. I especially like the new Greenway Emporium of eco products near the river and Stone House cafe. Finally, its put everything in the van and off to a local cafe, and Boyle does a few lovely little relaxing nooks like the Stone House and King House Cafe, and the Italian cafe by Super Valu has great coffee.

Then arriving home, empty the bags. Maybe its often the same things each week, but there is always that thrill of all these goodies, exploring what they are, sometimes taking tastes, and putting them away. It is truly a moment of reflection and thanksgiving to be able to replenish our “cauldrons” with a momentary thought and prayer for those who cannot be as fortunate.

Saturday morning shopping, now such a different experience to heading off to Tesco and Lidl. Instead a wholesome experience of a past "ritual" that I had forgotten, that includes social stimulation, senses stimulation, a sense of wonder, and certainly a huge personal contribution to eco living.

If you can, and don’t do this, try it :-)

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