Why is it that when I stand in front of a vendor at a farmers’market–could be somebody hawking pie or mozzarella or bread or cookies–probably cookies–that I believe and I suspect so does everyone else there–that the cookies were baked just moments before the person pulled up to the tent? At most the night before. And they were baked for me. It is an honor and a privilege and a duty to buy them.  It’s a done deal.

somebody made these and they're good!

But take the same homemade goodies and put them in an indoor space with no friendly face behind the table and though it’s packaged the same as ever and perhaps is as fresh as it is on Saturdays, it takes on the look of merchandise and I wonder how long the stuff has been sitting there. Real grocery stores have us trained to ignore the concept of freshness. If we knew when those mass-produced cookies were packaged or when that mozzarella was squished into the plastic, I’m not sure we’d be as inclined to buy anything at all there. But I think so much of the sweetness of buying food at farmers’ markets comes from the interaction with the vendor. Also much of the guilt-buying I do.

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