The Tiffin Tin

What\’s in your lunchbox?

Farmer’s Market

with 6 comments

The Tiffin Tin Manifesto says that you should grocery shop with your children. When they buy the food with you, they learn to make good choices. But like all manifestos, it doesn’t tell you the whole truth — it’s a utopian vision, after all. So here’s the truth: sometimes it’s just plain hard to get through a grocery store without ending up on the verge of (or in the midst of) a breakdown.

Many things conspire against a good grocery shopping trip. First, all the truly nasty food is right at your child’s eye level. And it’s tricked out to lure them into whining for it. Sanctimonious people see your children behaving just a bit badly and you just know, from the look in their eyes, that they think your children are always this way. That all children are. You give in and allow things in the basket you didn’t actually want to buy. And toward the end, you find yourself buying comfort items just for you (ice cream and liquor and potato chips) and then consuming these things, late at night, hunched over that Martha Stewart you grabbed in desperation.

So, you’re thinking to yourself, who’d ever want to shop with children? Unless they have to? Here’s one answer: a person who gets up on a lovely Sunday morning, not desperate to fill the fridge, and goes to the local DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles here in California) where the parking lot has been transformed into a farmer’s market. You bring two of your three children, if you’re me. They each get, say, $5. And a mission. One boy is charged with buying two cucumbers and some grapes. Another is looking for broccoli and apples. While they’re doing this, you get yourself a little croissant for breakfast and some flowers. And then some strawberries, and oh, look at that bread, and how about the lettuce?

I am here to tell you that our farmer’s market expedition yesterday miraculously DID fill our fridge with almost everything we need for the week.  And it was a resounding success and went beyond the purchase of a few cucumbers, broccoli, apples and grapes. And that is because there were SAMPLES! Of fruit and veg, but also of really interesting prepared food. My boys tried (a) tofu; (b) pumpkin bread; (c) Afghan bread with spinach in it that you dip into a red sauce that’s so healthy it glows. They liked everything. Including the vegan tamales.

I was shocked by this because no one has ever even hinted at tofu being an acceptable food. And bread with spinach in it would be seen as scary. Unless it’s handed to you by a guy with really blue eyes and a lot of tattoos. (I’ll admit to being the one who noticed the blue eyes. The boys were fixated on the tattoos.) They also loved the idea of salad with flowers in it. Because it was just so terribly beautiful.

One boy decided that this was the best “store” he’d ever been to. They all want to go back and try more things. I’m seeing a fall of root vegetables and delicious bread with deep green vegetables. Lovely tamales. And tons of other things, things not yet dreamed of by any of us. All in the DMV parking lot.

Written by bloglily

October 9, 2006 at 2:45 pm

6 Responses

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  1. And doesn’t the farmer’s market have the best veggies and stuff to photograph? 🙂

    BTW: Guess what I bought on eBay, my very own tiffin tin. It’s your fault.

    I’ll not be using it daily, but it makes a great container to use on the weeks I do the coffee bar at church. It’ll also be a great conversation starter. I’ll post pictures later this week.

    Sue Crocker

    October 9, 2006 at 2:54 pm

  2. Yes, it was beautiful there. I loved photographing things, almost as much as eating them! I’m looking forward to seeing your tin. xxoo, Lily


    October 9, 2006 at 10:55 pm

  3. I love this post, for so many reasons! Firstly, I have had grim supermarket visits with too many children in tow and have been forced to reward myself for surviving the ordeal with chocolate. Secondly, I far prefer my bi-weekly market visit to any supermarket trip – it is colourful, fresh and enticing. And thirdly, I’m also trying to enliven my kids’ palates with new and delicious flavours. They’re still small, so it’s a battle, but they are starting to try new things and get MASSIVELY PRAISED if they do. I say they don’t have to like the food, but they must try it …


    October 10, 2006 at 10:59 am

  4. Hi Charlotte, Something about free food in the open air really seems to entice people into being adventurous about eating. Also, it helps to have someone other than me suggesting the tofu! Your bi-weekly German market sounds great. The farmer’s market movement in the U.S. is a wonderful thing. It’s more expensive than the grocery store, but I figure (a) everything gets eaten; (b) we can always cut back on expensive prepared food in favor of fruit and veg; and (c) we do need to support small farms.


    October 10, 2006 at 11:27 am

  5. We’ve got a ‘farmers market’ happening in Balham, South London and supermum has become particularly addicted to the cheese stalls. To be honest, whilst there are some organic produce stalls from Essex farms and the like, it’s heavily biased to the expensive-olive-oils, hand-baked bread and deli type goods but dudelet (two and two thirds and riding in state in his pram for a change) loved the whole business. He also tried bits of everything – French cheese, sausage, bits of bread dipped in oil and balsamic vinegar, tagine sauce samples. Actually, he basically had lunch there.
    Tofu – he’ll eat tofu. The one rule we have (which may or may not help) is that any negative expressions about any kind of food at our table are banned.
    Most recent advance – tuna sushi – I think he’d have scoffed the lot of my plate. Though he drew the line at the sea bass. Sorry – I’m rambling now. Cheers, unrelaxeddad


    October 10, 2006 at 2:14 pm

  6. U-Dad, You’ve got the right idea: get to them when they’re little, make that rule about not dissing food a mantra, and you’ll be eating sushi when you go out instead of chicken fingers. Good for little dudelet.


    October 10, 2006 at 2:19 pm

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