The “Living the Food Charter” blog series is a “30 minutes or less” assignment we gave ourselves to help connect the LA Community Food Charter to our daily lives. Please excuse the casualness with which they are composed. We hope you enjoy!
On Sunday, my 7-year-old daughter, Clover, and I took a trip to the Lewiston Farmers’ Market, held at the corner of Lincoln and Main from 10am to 1pm every Sunday from May through October. Our mission: buy ingredients for a tasty and nourishing dinner for our family, including family members visiting for the weekend from Pennsylvania who are vegetarians. I told Clover I would interview her after and that we’d write about our trip for a blog post. Being the ham that she is, she was excited by the assignment!
We had a fun trip and we were joined by our visiting family, giving them a little taste of what #LAMaine is all about and enjoying the sunshine together. Clover picked out most of the veggies, and we talked about how we’d cook them for dinner. We saw some friends, pet a goat, and posed for silly pictures. We came home, cooked, and devoured almost all the food with our family, save for some leftover salad and a few beets. The next evening, I interviewed Clover, the transcript of which appears below.
As you’ll see, whether Clover realizes it or not, this type of experience is helping her build an understanding of the meaning of “local and sustainable agriculture” – one of the values in the Lewiston-Auburn Community Food Charter. Kids are sponges, and I hope this sort of fun exposure will stick with her and guide her as she gets older and makes her own food decisions.
You never know what might spark action. Many years ago, I was watching Oprah on TV (the good ole days!) and she was doing a show on environmental issues. She urged that if we all swapped out paper napkins for cloth napkins, we could save a whole lot of trees. I realized that I had cloth napkins in a drawer that I never used. That day, I pulled them out and began using (and reusing) them daily. Now, it’s just our habit and part of what we do in our household – a no brainer. I wonder how many paper napkins our family hasn’t used in the last 10 years or so. I think making little commitments to “living the charter” can be like that as well and move us toward a more sustainable food system.
Does our family buy all our food from the Farmers’ Market or other local producers? No. We are by no means perfect in our commitment to the values spelled out in the Charter. Case in point: tonight we had store-bought hot dogs with our leftover farm-fresh salad. But we try to make changes where we can, and every little effort moves our food system closer to one which we aspire. If enough of us make small changes, they can have a big impact. I hope that as Clover grows, some of these changes will stick with her and she will take them one step further.
Here’s the short interview between Clover and I after our Market excursion and cooking session, along with a recipe from the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center for greens in peanut sauce – a tasty and simple way to eat the plethora of greens available from Maine farmers. I hope you enjoy the harvest season!
Me: What’s so good about the Lewiston Farmers’ Market?
Clover: You can get your produce and it has a lot of vitamins.
Me: What’s the difference between going to the grocery store and going to the Farmers’ Market?
Clover: The Market has all local foods. The grocery store has any kind of food, even bad food. Local food has all kinds of vitamins in the vegetables and fruits.
Me: Does that mean there aren’t vitamins in the vegetables and fruits at the grocery store?
Clover: The vegetables and fruit at the grocery store are good for you too, but Farmers Market is a little better because it’s fresh. At the grocery store, you have to look at the date, on say, your tomatoes. And if it’s a year ago, you wouldn’t buy that!
Me: Why is buying food from the farmer different from buying it at the store?
Clover: You’re giving the money to other people in your town. They need money to survive.
Me: Do you remember what we cooked with the food we got from the Market?
Clover: We made a big garden salad to support the Farmer’s Market. It had lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers that we got from the Market. We also made rainbow chard with peanut sauce, corn, beets, grilled patty pan squash, and we had soft cheese and crackers and husk cherries for an appetizer.
Me: What was your favorite?
Clover: My favorite thing was the sweet corn!
Me: What was your favorite thing about going to the Market?
Clover: Seeing all the people buying the food, and I liked to pat the goat! ♣
Mia Poliquin Pross has served on the Good Food Council of Lewiston-Auburn since 2014. She is the Operations Manager at St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, bringing varied experience in the non-profit and public interest sectors in areas such as social policy, women’s issues, social services, law, and advocacy. Mia earned her Juris Doctor in 2004 from the University Of New Hampshire School of Law. She also holds a BS in Social Work from Plymouth State University. Mia currently resides in Auburn with her husband, daughter, and dog Spaghetti.