Looking for Local

The local food scene today was more investigation then consumption. I cruised the produce section of Good Earth for the second time in four days eyeing their new signs that count the miles between store and farm and discovered outside of the farmers market it's hard to get close to your food. Today the choices within 100 miles consisted of long skinny cucumbers, shitake mushrooms at nearly $9 a pound and some red russian kale. I've never entertained red russian kale and decided to pass at even this close invitation. The apples were from Chile or 5,436 miles south. The chard was also out of my range although I couldn't resist a tomato from somewhere near Carlsbad. Spinach was thankfully close as were golf ball sized zucchinis and bunched carrots with greens intact but the single carrots were delivered from a destination further south.

At the salad dressing shelves I put on my glasses. The brand at eye level, I can't remember it's name, the one that I've always bought, that is on the refrigerator door of everyone I know is trucked from Vermont. The competition brand below is also shipped from Vermont. I'll make my own, I thought but grabbed the last choice from the top shelf. Made in California, Organicville, no gluten. I don't know what gluten tastes like. I tossed in the basket. How bad could it be?

Hoping to find west Marin food growers, I headed for the San Rafael farmers market. Fourth Street was teaming with people and lined with importers of African masks, Peruvian flutes, Tibetan turquoise. There was a line for tamales, papusas, kettle korn, hot dogs hot off the grill. And the Scientologists were there with a blue plastic machine with dials I didn't understand. A folding table for Obama in '08 was set up across from a tarot reader and a woman in a purple wig sang blues with her back up band too loud behind her. Squeezed in between the heavy beat and smell of hot cheese from pizzas sold by the slice, baby carriages and rows of young men strutting like bands of young men do, were produce sellers from foreign sounding California towns. Towns I've never heard of. Towns I began to think were make believe with their names like childhood fairy tale titles printed on plastic banners. I took photos of cherries and stawberries in the last light, bought an onion from Katmandu for all I know, paid a dollar and called it a day.

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