Literary Lessons from the Farmers’ Market

Our local farmers’ market occurs on Friday mornings and involves just 14 stands, sadly only three of them from actual farms.

Fortunately, those three stands overflow with produce: Fruit, vegetables, herbs, even fresh eggs. Those of us who show up wear masks, follow taped aisles to maintain social distancing, and use only credit/debit cards as payment.

Anyone reading this who has ever visited an open-air market knows that “Fresh” and “Organic” are rarely synonymous with “Cheap.” We’re willing to pay a premium to feed our bodies with wholesome bounty from the earth because we believe it is healthier and more delicious, because it supports the people who grow the food and allows them to maintain their farms.

Photo by Erik Scheel on

Those who have read my older blogs, or even talked to me more than once about book publishing, know that I have two firm beliefs: One, Publishing is not an arts collective. Publishers are businesspeople, and they cannot ignore the rules of keeping a balance sheet. Two, Books are worth money. They’re worth paying for, they’re worth buying, because they entertain and education and inform and feed our brains, but also because buying them supports the people who write the books and allows them to maintain their profession.

Not everyone can afford produce from the farmers’ market. Not everyone wants to pay a premium for that produce, even if it tastes better. In our current economy, we have choices. I am not here to scold. Everyone I know, at all different income levels, uses the library. No one I know can buy every book they like.

However, those of us who do pay premiums for things like a pint of juicy organic blackberries–or a delicious artisanal latte–or soft socks–or any luxury you choose, perhaps we could be mindful about putting some of our money towards books. The fresh juice purveyor at my market asks $11 for each (delicious!) bottle she sells. Passing up two of those could equal purchasing a fantastic new paperback.

Wandering a farmers’ market opens the mind to sights and smells and tastes and shows us so many choices. Choose books. Choose literature. Choose well.

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