I don’t know exactly how far Dufferin Grove Organic Farmers’ Market is from my house. A four-minute bike ride. Six blocks or so. All I know is that it has shaped and changed my eating habits, for good.
I go every Thursday, now. I go if I’ve had a good writing day (Thursday is Writing Day), I go if it’s been crap. Rain or shine, summer or spring.
The market is bordered on on side by its on kitchen garden. Tomatoes, nasturtiums, zucchinni, herbs: for the pizzas, cooked in a wood-burning over and sold on Thursdays, or for the Friday community dinners. Sunflowers grow with abandon, their faces dark against the blue sky. I see lots of young moms, babies held casually in one arm, a bag full of chard and squash in the other. This place is important for them, a site of community. I catch a basketball that strays near my bike and hand it back to the clutch of young Asian and Black boys who haunt the basketball court and play fanatically, day and night. They thank me sweetly.
Sometimes I run into people I know, like The Painter. Hi, she says, rather shyly. Hi I say. I’ve. Been. Writing. All. Day. Now. I. Can. Barely. Form. Words.
I. Know. she says. Painting. Same.
OK so I don’t go for the conversation! I go for the bread, the tomatoes, the peaches. I go for the funny booth with the funny dudes. Did. You. Want. Arugula. says one of the farmers, too me. Oh. My. God. I say. You. Read. My Mind. Well, we’re sold out he says. Damn you. I say. Shoulda got here sooner. he says. Some. Of. Us. Have. To. Make. Art. I say.
When I get home, I fall upon the multi-grain bread I bought, baked in those same wood-burning ovens. I make Sausage and Rapini Stew, adapted from that liquor store magazine (Food and Drink). I don’t think their recipes are that shit hot. Or maybe it’s that the rapini tasted bitter. But as I chop and stir, I realize that at least half of my ingredients, on any given day, are from farms within 100 miles of my home.
Does that make me a demi-locavore? I tend to find the 100-mile diet fad a bit precious, an amusement for the privileged classes. I think it’s the idea of it, its ethical heart, that’s important. I’m all over buying locally when and if you can. I know the faces of the farmers who make my food. It’s such a grounding ritual, to go to market.
It’s a privilege to receive the earth’s produce in that way, country to city, hand to hand.
Sausage & Rapini Stew
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
glug of olive oil
1/2 bunch rapini, trimmed (you could also just use broccolli – less bitter)
2 cups tomatoes
a small amount of tomato paste
sprinkle of red pepper flakes
3 Italian sausages, casings removed
Chopped yam, pattypan squash and/or carrot, as desired (I threw in green beans too)
Basil & thyme
Saute onions in olive oil, add minced garlic & pepper flakes. Shmoosh up the chopped tomatoes in a food processor or blender until a fine lumpy mess and add to onion mixture. After about ten minutes, toss in yams etc (if using), rapini, then sliced sausages, adding in some tomato paste if the thing needs thickening. Throw in the herbs, salt & pepper to taste, simmer about 20 mins or until veggies are tender. Serve over polenta.