11 August 2008

Going local: Arlington Farmers' Market

It has been spread abroad that white people love farmers' markets; I am no exception.

There are five farmers markets convenient to where I live in Alexandria: Arlington Farmers' Market, Del Ray Farmers' Market, Old Town Farmers' Market, Upper King Street Fresh Farmers' Market, and Eastern Market. It is my intention over the next three weeks to visit each of these in turn for the sake of comparison and contrast. If all goes as planned, I'll place a review of each of my market visits right here for your viewing pleasure.

I started this past Saturday with the Arlington Farmer's Market. Located next to the Arlington Courthouse, the market runs every Saturday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, and it appears to be open year-round, which is a plus.*

The market itself covers a fair-sized lot. The official website for the market claims to have thirty producers involved, but I don't know if they're claiming that all of them are present each week. Whether they are or not, there is certainly a large selection present, with multiple vendors to choose from for fruits, vegetables, breads, honeys, meats, dairy products, and flowers.

The last two times I've visited, I found the vendors quite friendly. They're willing to make change for a twenty and make recommendations regarding their produce, and they all seem very appreciative of your business. There's also a spirit of friendly cooperation and neighborliness among them--this surprised me a little, since I walked into the market assuming that two stands selling fresh vegetables would consider themselves at odds with each other.

I stopped at one particular stand that had a sign promising delicious and unique cherry tomatoes, tried one, and felt compelled to buy a pint. I already had a few tomatoes in a half-flat box that I had purchased from a vendor across the way, and as I payed for the cherry tomatoes the man at the cash box looked closely at them.

"Those don't look like our tomatoes"

"No, I bought them from one of your competitors over there."

"Oh, they're not our competitors," he grinned warmly. "We're all just neighbors here." Nevertheless, he did lean in closer and whisper, "Ours are better!" Then he chuckled.

The spirit of camaraderie extends to some degree to the patrons of the market as well. Everyone seems to be kind and deferential to one another. There's a sense of community--maybe it's the common interest in sustainable, local agriculture; maybe it's the smell of fresh basil and flowers that hovers in the air between stalls.

I've been quite pleased with all of my purchases from the market--particularly the colossal blackberries from Westmoreland Berry Farm and a batch of peaches I picked up from another stand this week. Those cherry tomatoes were pretty dynamite too. I'm also excited to finish off my store-bought yogurt soon so I can dive into the fresh honey yogurt I purchased from the booth run by Blue Ridge Dairy. The small spoonful I tasted promised a true, cultured yogurt flavor with just enough honey to soften the bite.

The two drawbacks to the market are the fact that it's about a ten-minute drive to get there (small drawback), and parking is fairly limited considering the popularity of the market (larger drawback). If you're lucky you can find street parking, but most patrons have to use a lot adjacent to the market. Cars are constantly moving up and down the lanes of the lot, searching for an empty spot or someone who is leaving. Once you finally park, each spot is metered. Make sure you have change on hand.
Overall, though, I've really enjoyed my experiences at the Arlington Farmers' Market. I recommend it to anyone who has the means to go on a Saturday morning and the desire for fresh, local produce.

*Many fruits and vegetables won't be available during the winter months, but it's nice to know that a market is still open during that time, offering whatever is available.

05 August 2008

Barack Obama for Childlike Emperor

A friend shared a link with me where you can go to generate your own inspirational Barack Obama quotations.

I thought it was important for Mr. Obama to address the current state of affairs in Fantasia, as he runs against the Childlike Empress for her position this year:

Generate a Barack Obama Quote!

"I think it's time we had a national conversation about Fantasia. We need to get past all the Swamps of Sadness and recognize that we are our own best hope for overcoming the Nothing. We need Falkors, not G'morks. Falkors are our imagination. And we need to have change in Fantasia."
Generate your Barack Obama quote at Buttafly.com

He goes on:

Generate a Barack Obama Quote!

"These people haven't had imagination for fifty years. So you can't be surprised if they get bitter and cling to their Swamps of Sadness and their G'morks and their the Nothing. That's what my campaign is about. Teaching all the little people in this country that they can have Falkors."
Generate your Barack Obama quote at Buttafly.com

I believe in the audacity of imagination; I believe in a new Fantasia. This is change we can believe in.

04 August 2008

Bored scribblings

I was just cleaning up my little officeoid (it's not a full office--it only has 3.2 walls), and I came across a few "notes" I had taken during two different meetings. The first set of notes was torn off of a steno-pad. I think it's from something I sat in on up at my client site:
--Bees can kill me, but they haven't yet

--Jenn and I think we inherited a cooking gene

--Jazz, rock 'n' roll

--Let's talk about what we think we're going to talk about talking about, but never actually talk about it.

The second set of notes is from a meeting at my office that some of our clients were invited to. Chuck "Malapropism" Dogberry of the clients bought pizza to try and seem like a cool guy, and the thing went on for about four hours. Around hour three I drafted a will onto one of the pizza napkins in case I should die of boredom or take my own life:
Last Will and Testament
To whom it may concern:
If you are reading this, I have been found dead with my eyes burned out by a laser pointer and the pen attached to that laser pointer jammed deep, deep into my jugular.
'Twas CAP [the client program I support] that brought me here, and 'twas CAP that drove me to this end.
To my brother The Shark I bequeath my music collection and my DVDs, except Matt can have "Firefly." Everything else I leave to Matt Sztuk and Michele, who will play Rock, Paper, Scissors to decide who gets what.
To Jamie [my supervisor at the time] I leave a kick in the shins.
Jared Gillins
28 FEB 2008

These are some of the most productive meetings I've attended with my clients.