No matter how much I love good jam, I still cannot bring myself to spend 4 dollars on an eight-ounce jar of Bonne Maman’s at the grocery store.
I am, however, more than willing to do the following without a moment’s hesitation:
-Spend $40 on sugar and pectin and jar lids
-Dig through peoples’ garages for extra jars (with permission, of course)
-Wash and sanitize box upon box of dusty jars
-Venture out into the heat to pick pounds and pounds of fruit
-Haul the fruit back to my house
-Sort, wash and chop the fruit
-Turn my kitchen into a sauna while I boil the fruit with sugar and pectin, pour it into jars and process those jars in a huge steaming pot of boiling water.
–Scald my hands, get pricked by cactus thorns, get scratched by branches, nick my fingers and develop blisters all for the sake of enjoying something homemade.
And enjoy I have!
Apricot, wild plum, white peach, strawberry, spiced fig, prickly pear–I’ve been in homemade heaven all summer long. However, jam has been just the tip of the iceberg as far as food goes. Thanks to the talented vendors at our local farmers market here in Clyde, I have been spoiled with wholesome treats such as goat’s milk cheeses and yogurts, homemade breads, farm-fresh eggs, raw milk and organic chickens.
But here’s the funny part:
What’s that about?
If it were just me behaving this way, I would chalk it up to lunacy. But I’m NOT the only one. When I decided to sell my 16-ounce jars of apricot jam for the price I felt they were worth ($9), I was worried that no one would buy them. Instead, I sold thirty jars in three hours. What was interesting was that both the well-to-do people and the paycheck-to-paycheck people were buying, not only my jam, but three-dollar cartons of eggs and six-dollar loaves of bread as well. What would cause struggling people in a struggling economy to purchase higher-priced fare when they could easily go down the street and get the same items for much cheaper?
I believe the reason is that we crave authenticity. After spending a week staring at a computer screen, getting stuck at traffic lights and, god forbid, pushing my way through a crowded supermarket, I feel as faded as the yolk in a store-bought egg. I feel suffocated, like I’m made of plastic. But then I cook up a batch of jam or sprinkle some homemade feta over veggies that I grew myself, and soon I feel the color returning to my cheeks. Sure, authenticity comes with a price, but it’s worth every penny because what we receive in return is whole and real.
When I heard that Chobani supported the 2012 Olympics, I thought, That’s nice, but I may or may not buy their yogurt.
However,when the owner of the local creamery told me that she gets up at 3am every morning to make yogurt and then milks the goats at 6am and then leaves for her day job at 8am, I thought, I’ll take a jar!
Please don’t take this the wrong way. I don’t have it out for big businesses. What I’m saying is that there is life and power in food that had been passionately prepared by hard-working hands versus food that’s been packaged in a factory by sterile, glove-clad hands.
Call me crazy, but I can taste the difference, and I’m willing to pay for that difference.
If you live in the Clyde area and wish to partake in our authentic fare, head out to our farmers market between now and October 6th from 7-11ish along North 1st Street. In the meantime, check us out on Facebook at “Clyde Farmers Market.”