Jessica Classen shows off a basket of Ginger Gold apples at Filasky's Produce in Middletown.
Gallery: Farm produce [9 Images] Click any image to expand.
By Richard Gaw
Walk into any massive food market and watch what it does to you.
By the time you fetch your shopping cart, you are drowning in a sensorial overload, a knock-out blow of light, air conditioning and choice. You are in a maze of excess, searching desperately for one item while ten more reach out with all the power of a Madison Avenue advertising campaign, begging to go home with you.
Your place on the checkout line resembles a human cattle call, and you watch mothers on a coffee jag stockpiling for the week, and guys with Honey-Do lists written in feminine scrawl, double checking that they got everything she asked for. The parking lot seems designed with no other intention but to bring out the ferocious beast in all of us.
The store has you, and why?
Because they have everything.
You are a prisoner of convenience.
But look, off the beaten path. There they are, farmers' markets, defiant and beautiful in their simplicity. You read the signage that is painted, not glowing. Peaches. Melons. Tomatoes. Berries. Local Watermelon. Flowers. You pull off the road and are immediately transported to a time that is dipped in sepia, one that slips with no apologies within the cracks of progress. It conjures up images of the hard hands that went into the “making” of what you see stacked in pyramids and perfect rows. Here, you are not blinded by the shock of commerce. Here, your extremities are no longer frozen. You are met by the people who helped plant, cultivate and pick the fruit and vegetables that burst with color and the fragrance that carries the scent of the soil.
For all of the right choices, you begin to make farmers' markets a destination, and it makes all the difference.
During the production of Middletown Life, our staff passes farmers' markets in Middletown, Odessa, Townsend and beyond. Recently, we brought our cameras to two of them – Filasky's Produce and Money's – to capture the replenishing banquet of what has become a welcome alternative for thousands of local residents.