The week before Thanksgiving is probably a busy one at your local farmers' market. People descend in droves to gather their ingredients for the big day: potatoes, fresh cranberries, kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, celery, onions, broccoli, cauliflower, fresh herbs. The farmers respond appropriately by harvesting big, hiring extra booth workers and hauling everything to the market site.
So what happens when it rains and people stay away?
What happens is the farmers lose. A lot. And unlike a retail establishment, they can't make up for it in the following days. (Of course, a grocery store doesn't have to worry about the rain to begin with.) Some farmers estimate that they can lose up to 50% of their business when it rains or the weather turns inclement.
The marketplace is more than a place to exchange cash for goods. It's a place of human relationships, a stage where the larger issues and values of our culture are revealed. We see this writ large on Wall Street but we also see it in a more personal, everyday way when we shop the farmers' markets. Here we are closer to the source and therefore more responsible for and concerned about their success and well-being. In this way, we are not just consumers, we are co-producers, an important and necessary link in the important and necessary process of providing safe, sustainable and affordable food for everyone.
So please, if you are committed to supporting your local farmers, remember to go to the market even on rainy (or snowy!) days. It may not be as fun as meandering about under blue skies, but the crowds will be smaller and your farmer will be grateful for the support.