I spend a lot of time reflecting on things for which I’m grateful—it’s the simplest way I know to immediately boost my mood and the most natural antidote to my brain’s negative default setting. Practicing gratitude, like practicing anything, has made me better at it. I remember a time when I could scarcely come up with five items for my gratitude list. Today, I could quite literally write about my gratitude all day.
Feeling grateful can bring me to tears, something which happens frequently when I shop at the Farmers Market. When I see, for example, a gigantic butternut squash for a $1.50 or a bushel of apples for $4.50 I’m often overwhelmed. I think about the farmers toiling to bring this food, life’s sustenance, miles to sell at market and wonder how much they could possibly earn from farming. I think about how much easier it would be for them to sell their farms to a corporation which would turn them into factory farming, GMOed foods, products made from tortured animals. I am so thankful they choose, instead, to plant and tend and reap and gather and drive 50 or 100 miles or more so that I can buy a huge bunch of organic kale for $2.
Living near Courthouse Square in Downtown Scranton, I frequent the farmers table at the square on Thursdays. The farm’s owner from nearby Clarks Summit, is accustomed to my tears. She hands me three huge bags of produce and tells me I owe her $7 and the crying begins. How can you live on this, I ask. Maybe you should charge more. She assures me she’s earning enough; she has everything she needs. I walk away feeling so grateful and simultaneously guilty. What does she earn per hour, I wonder.
I used to work for an art appraisal business in Manhattan. Our motto was: A thing is worth whatever the buyer will pay. By that reasoning life-giving, life-sustaning food is worth less than tax and legal advice (1 hour of such advice is equal to 1 months’ food for me) toner cartridges for my printer (1 week’s food cost) and hair conditioner (1 days’ food cost).
I would love to live in a world where independent farmers earned as much as Wall Street advisors, a world that rewards those who feed and nourish and provide the most basic of human needs—food.
I am so grateful for the Farmers Market Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays in North Scranton, for the farmers’ generosity and hard work. When the Farmers Markets end near Thanksgiving, I will be driven back to prepackaged foods shipped from Florida, California, Chile, Mexico. But from July through November every year, I get to enjoy the bounty that is right here in my backyard.