My husband (right), enjoying his time at the farmers market.
Spring is officially here, which means cooks across the country are looking forward to the opening of their local farmers market. What could be better than strolling through stands brimming with fresh fruits and vegetables, chatting with the farmer who grew the chard you're about to buy, your happy partner by your side? Right?
Um, yeah. About that. Now is also the perfect time to take a moment to ask yourself this question: Does my partner actually like going to the farmers market as much as I do? Because there's a good chance the answer is a resounding NO.
Perhaps you are lucky enough to have a partner who does in fact love the farmers market as much as — maybe even more than — you do. Congratulations! Enjoy your blissful market trips together and I'll try not to feel resentful as I juggle two giant bags of produce and a carton of eggs alone. You can probably stop reading now. This list does not apply to you.
I am married to a wonderful man who made it clear early on in the relationship that farmers markets are his personal hell. The reasons were never totally clear — something about "hipster dads with Baby Bjorns" and "hippies" and "too much fresh produce" — but I respected them, mostly because it was way less annoying to just go by myself than deal with him being all grumpy about it.
But in the years since I stopped ever expecting him to join me at the market, I've noticed something interesting. When another couple hears about our farmers market truce, one of them will often ask me, either openly or on the sly, "How do I get my partner to stop making me come to the farmers market?" It seems there are a lot of unhappy shoppers out there. Do you go to the market every week with one?
...Are you sure?
I decided to do an informal poll of friends and family, to find out why farmers market haters feel the way they do, and help spread the word to their farmers-market-loving partners. Because no matter how much we might love looking at fruits and vegetables that haven't been shrink-wrapped and sterilized, or how excited we get about the new vendor selling fresh almond butter or lentils or organic onions, let's be honest: we're kind of weird.
So don't judge your partner too harshly. He or she has some pretty compelling reasons for not actually wanting to go to the farmers market.
5 Reasons Why Your Partner Doesn't Want to Go to the Farmers Market With You
1. Because the scene is terrible.
Strollers and shopping carts going every which way, weird musicians, pushy salespeople, patrons stepping on your feet in a mad dash for the last basket of strawberries — this is a situation most people would go out of their way to avoid.
One friend's husband says farmers markets are "basically a scene out of a zombie apocalypse story." He goes on:
"Children are running and screaming. Parents are pushing their SUV-sized strollers through the crowd with gusto. Somewhere, someone is playing a guitar and singing, as if nothing is wrong. There is no sign of authority anywhere. Chaos rules the day."
2. Because dealing with the crowds and bad parking is not worth a tomato, heirloom or otherwise.
I hate big, outdoor, weekend-long concerts. The crowds, parking lines and overpriced water aren't worth it; I'd rather listen to my favorite bands in the comfort of my living room. Not as vibrant or exciting, sure, but a lot less hellish.
This is pretty much how your partner feels about tomatoes, corn and whatever else you are waxing rhapsodic about while you both stand uncomfortably sweating under the beating sun, waiting for the vendor to finish up his long, slow conversation with the woman in front of you. No vegetable is worth it, no matter how fresh.
3. Because they don't like talking to people. Especially the kinds of people who go to farmers markets.
At the supermarket, you are not expected to politely listen to a 15-minute long lecture about eggs from the kid stocking the egg case. That kid would be fired. Not so at the farmers market, where vendors and patrons often go out of their way to talk to you about what you are buying and how to prepare it. And then there are the people shoving samples of their expensive hummus in your face. Or the ones trying to get you to sign petitions, or pledge money to their causes, or buy their newsletter. As one friend puts it:
"I get shifty and introverted and don't want to have to chat with all the vendors and feel like I have to buy stuff I sample."
And then there is my husband, who has an irrational hatred of the man who offers 15-minute acupressure massages at our local market.
"Why do I hate the farmers market? Because why would I want to have to interact with people who would actually pay legal tender for a 'chi massage.'"
4. Because they're not the ones cooking, so they really don't care who grew the damn kale.
Checking out who has the best cauliflower today might be fun for you, but it holds no appeal to the person who doesn't even know what bad cauliflower looks like, or maybe even what a head of cauliflower looks like, period.
A friend whose husband does the cooking sums it up like this:
"I hate going to the farmers market for the same reason I hate going to the grocery store. I have no idea what to do with any of that stuff! It's overwhelming. Fresh cucumbers? No idea. Point me towards the pupusa guy and I'll meet you when you're done shopping!"
5. Because all that and you still have to go to the grocery store afterward.
One member of my extended family, an avid cook and food-loving guy, surprised me by telling me he hates the farmers market for this reason:
"An hour to park and get only the produce that is in season. And you still have to make a trip to the grocery store for everything else."
I mean, I see his point. A trek to the crowded farmers market followed by a trip through a crowded Trader Joe's? If that isn't cruel and unusual punishment, I'm not sure what is.
Do you and your partner have different feelings about the farmers market? How have you reconciled your differences?
If you're wondering about the top photo, it is an Instagram I snapped last weekend to document my husband's rare appearance at the farmers market. He was only there because he had to shoot a scene for Tesla & Twain, an upcoming web series he created and co-stars in, about Nikola Tesla and Mark Twain time-traveling to present-day Los Angeles. You can check out the pilot episode on Cracked.com and follow him on Twitter to find out the latest news.
And as you can see, he is awesome in many ways that totally make up for his refusal to go to the farmers market with me.