Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink! Yesterday my poor husband suffered in Annapolis with the aroma of cooking bacon, and today I suffered working 5 hours at a farmers’ market.
Normally my farmers’ market day begins with a reheated muffin from the freezer. Not today! Instead I made a big bowl of oatmeal with half a banana and a little peanut butter (starting to run low, need to ration) and ate it on my way to the market, running late due to the extra task.
I work in the Welcome Tent at the Baltimore Farmers’ Market and Bazaar. You may remember my sneaky trick using Bonus Bucks to purchase my CSA share. Starting this July, the market now accepts SNAP and debit cards and turns them into tokens that can be used to make purchases with 40 of the vendors. Even the Mayor came out on one of the hottest days of the summer to help celebrate this new service.
The benefit for SNAP customers is twofold. First of all, their SNAP money can now be spent with local farmers to purchase fresh, local fruits, vegetables, breads, meats, cheeses, milk, and more. Secondly, with the help of some sponsors, the market is matching up to the first $10 a SNAP customer spends on tokens each week. Which means SNAP customers can double their money every week! And our vendors get to benefit from an expanded pool of customers. Win-win.
For the past two months I have had the privilege of working with fantastic co-workers and meeting and talking with lots of market customers and vendors. More on the customers in a bit. So one of these fantastic co-workers had raved about a certain mushroom sandwich made by one of our vendors last week and promised to get me one this week. I had completely forgotten about this, but she didn’t. And so a delicious mushroom sandwich was delivered to me, stuffed with thick juicy portobello mushrooms, dripping with a hot sauce-spiked marinade and topped with fresh salad greens, fresh basil, and feta cheese. It looked something like this. When I was halfway through with it.
I was weak! I failed! I cheated! But it felt so good. I attempted to ”Avoid accepting free food from friends, family, or at work” but I failed. I consoled myself with the thought that I at least tried to resist, and that I the mushroom sandwich had been previously promised, not given in response to me taking the challenge.
Thanks to my forbidden fungus, I was pretty set until I was able to prepare our lunch of roasted beets, beet greens, and rice. We finally sat down to eat after 2:30pm. Our fancy lunch cost us $2.47.
While I waited for the beets to roast, I enjoyed my share of the remaining $1.50 that we spent at the market: coffee. Typically I fill my thermos every Sunday at the same vendor for $1. Today I delayed the coffee until my husband came to the market and we shared the special treat.
The other $.50 was doubled using imaginary Bonus Bucks to buy a giant zucchini.
Our very late dinner was just a small spinach salad with some grated carrot and diced celery and homemade vinaigrette. Total cost $1.07.
Back to the market customers. From working at the farmers’ market I had already come to appreciate that our SNAP customers don’t fit any stereotype. From taking this challenge, I can appreciate a little how much $10 in Bonus Bucks can mean. With my extra Bonus Bucks this week I was able to “purchase” produce that would have been off limits in the grocery store. Our week would look and feel much different if we didn’t have the luxury of lots of fresh vegetables.
Lessons of the day: $10 is big money.