You’ve seen several posts on this blog about markets. In Carcassonne we have the open-air fresh fruits and vegetables market on the square three days a week; inside the heated/air-conditioned Les Halles covered market you can buy meats and seafood all week-long; and every other week or so there seems to be a fair that highlights the local wine, honey, nuts, cheese, and other products made here. In other words, we’re faced with an embarrassment of choices.
In the attached photo you’ll see one of our favorite farming couples that we see at the market once or twice a week. Always smiling, always a kind word with directions on how to cook something and even holding up the calculator to us so that we can read the numbers of how much we owe. They grow virtually everything that they sell so we can feel confident in the origin and quality of what we buy from them and be assured that the money goes back into their pockets. Sometimes their prices are a bargain but many times other vendors with similar products will offer what seems to be a better value. That’s where the choices come into play.
Like anyone else we have a budget and I hope like everyone else, a conscience. One thing that we like about life here is the emphasis on supporting your local businesses whether it’s shopping down the street, buying from the area’s fairs and festivals, or in this case selecting fruits and vegetables sold either by the farmers themselves or by other business people re-selling the produce.
So who do you buy from? We’re still trying to get that balance right so that we can stay within our budget and continue to help encourage the people doing all of the hard work. Our backpacks are the secret weapon in the challenge that also includes not hurting anyone’s feelings. We can go to the market, buy some things from the folks you see here and then continue on around to other vendors, carefully stashing any new purchases away from view into the backpacks. That works too if we buy any bread at one of the bakeries around the square. Our most direct route home takes us right in front of the little grocery store owned by our neighbor from across the street and from whom we sometimes buy baguettes. He also happens to sell a wine that we like, at a good price and that we haven’t seen anywhere else, so I don’t think he has any worries.