Last night I got into my husband's car and was assaulted by a swarm of fruitflies and the unmistakable odor of fermentation. Steve acknowledged that matters were amiss: "There's gotta be something under one of the seats; but I looked and I couldn't find it."
Fortunately I have been practicing yoga recently, and by breathing deeply from my belly and finding Threading the Needle pose I was able to contort my arm under the front seat to extract an unspeakably icky something in an advanced stage of decay.
I'm pretty sure that it was one of these lovely Italian prune plums that Steve bought at the farmers' market near his office:
These are the best plums in the world for baking, and they're fresh and wonderful in the way that only farmers' market produce can really be. No shrink-wrapped, over-packaged, flavorless supermarket plums for us! These are the real deal, absolutely fabulous.
Of course, those shrink-wrapped supermarket plums would not have the freedom to leap out of an airy, lovingly-hand-packed bag to roll wherever they pleased in the car. But that, too, would be a missed opportunity! I can't remember all the details of exactly how Alexander Fleming accidentally cultured the penicillin bacterium; but I'm pretty sure it involved wayward produce under the front seat of his Honda.
I adore farmers' markets, all farmers' markets; and despite the fact that I have both a garden and a CSA share, I try to make weekly visits to our town's Saturday morning market during the four months that it's in operation. Just look at this week's bounty! Ah, the peppers...
The cilantro! The eggplants!
Even if I were totally flooded with produce, as I often am (what with the garden and the CSA), I would go to the market anyway just for the eggs. Every summer and early fall weekend I grab the carton from last week's eggs:
...and I bring it with me to the market so I can give it back to the farmer when I buy this week's dozen. True, it's made of styrofoam (bad); but I am offering it up for re-use (good). And then there are the eggs themselves -- they have that certain something that only truly locally-produced food can offer. Exceptional flavor? Well, perhaps...But let's be real: they are eggs. They just taste like eggs. Which is very good -- I love eggs -- but eggs are eggs, once you get beneath the shell.
Here's what these eggs really have to offer: an extra coating of birdshit. Look in the lower right-hand corner:
I know I should welcome this extra additive, that our society's obsessive war on bacteria has detracted from the microbial diversity on our planet and in our diets. Just think of the good bacteria that these super-authentic eggs will add to my family's collective gut microbiome!
Then again, maybe they will just give us salmonella.
I have one more weekend marketing stop to make, this one at Whole Foods. Yes, it would be very nice to buy absolutely everything at the farmers' market or to pluck it from my own backyard garden. But in Massachusetts you can't buy locally-sourced lemons:
And sometimes a girl just needs some chips:
Or even...imagine!....a chicken:
Yes, I know what you're thinking. I should be eating lower on the food chain. I should be eating mostly plants. But here's the thing about this chicken: it is a STEP 4 chicken:
Whole Foods rates all of its meat and poultry on a scale of moral rectitude ranging from 1 to 5. Step 1 is the lowest ranking, presumably for those farms subjecting animals to conditions not fit for....well, animals, I suppose. I have never seen Step 1 products sold in the store. They must be despicable indeed. I, personally, would not be caught dead in the company of a Step 1 chicken (although the Step 1 chicken would presumably be dead by the time it could be caught in company with me).
Nor, for that matter, have I ever been able to find a Step 5 chicken in the store. I'm almost certain the Step 5 meat is made out of soybeans.
But a Step 4 chicken: that's not too shabby. It's a solid B on the Virtue scale. This is a Pasture-Centered, Hormone-Free chicken, one that has not been tormented by antibiotic injections, a chicken that has not been disparaged for the size of its breasts. This is a chicken for right-minded folks like myself, folks who buy free-range plums at the farmer's market, folks who re-use their egg cartons.
Having earned a solid B on my chicken purchase and looking for a few extra credit points, I offer a re-used plastic CVS bag for wrapping the bird for the ride home. I usually remember to bring re-usable cloth bags to the supermarket, and they are fine for most of the things I buy. But this Step 4 chicken is a little leaky; and I don't really need the extra salmonella that is oozing from the raw poultry, since, as you may recall, this week I am getting all the salmonella I need from the birdshit on my eggs. So I ask the store clerk to double-wrap the chicken in a re-used (good) plastic (bad) bag.
The thing is, this chicken in its re-used plastic bag from CVS has a rather low profile in the trunk of my car:
I have seen the energy with which these super-virtuous foodstuffs pursue the free-range lifestyle. That plum took it upon itself to wander from one side of the car to the other, hiding in a cozy niche under the passenger seat. I can easily see this little Step 4 chicken rolling under the spare canvas shopping bags in the trunk, hiding for days, ultimately turning into a science experiment that would put that foul, fruitfly-infested prune plum to shame.
But then again, any maggots it might attract in my trunk would be Step 4 maggots. And just think what they could do for my gut microbiome.