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So the Eat Local Challenge starts July 1, and I’m warming up. The High Point farmers market has just opened, and I’m eager to see how it compares to the others.

old trustyOn a new health kick, I proudly pump up the tires on my bike and pull an engineer’s cap over my bedhead, hoping no one will be too picky about appearances. I grab my new purple ChicoBag, stuff it into its sack, with some cash, and I’m off down the street. I notice the front tire is flat again already, but I decide to continue since the market isn’t very far away. I pump up the tire again halfway there and hope for the best.

The farmers market is small. Two men sit behind two folding tables with their veggies displayed; two other trucks are almost loaded, the vendors ready to head back; it was about 10 am. I approach the first table and survey the freshness: zucchini, tomatoes, potatoes, and the NC-omnipresent sweet potatoes. I pick out a nice-looking pickling cucumber and a few green tomatoes and add them to my bag. I try to get the farmer talking all the while, asking about the trouble I’ve had growing cukes. He’s especially interested in my bike, and we talk scooters for a bit.

I visit the truck next to him, then, and buy a bunch of beets, especially so I can eat the greens: I’m missing the callaloo we had in Jamaica, and spinach or kale are no match for the subtle texture and flavor. Maybe the beets will do. This farmer thanks me profusely for overpaying by 50 cents, and shares his beet recipe (baked, with butter and spices). I add the bundle to my ChicoBag and, starting to head home, I drape the bag over my handlebars.

It’s a little embarrassing being the only one at a farmers market of 4 people, because I’m shy anyways. And, I haven’t gotten on a bike in a year and a half, and, the tire is flat. I mutter something in nervous acknowledgement of this and wobble off through the parking lot. I ride about ten feet.

Kerchunk. I’m stopped. I look down. I see pink smeared along the rim of my front tire. Curiously, I’m thinking it’s the ChicoBag, torn. I look. The beets have been neatly yanked through the front fork, some woven between the spokes, some still tucked behind the fork. I dismount and survey the problem carefully. The farmer approaches me. I say, “I’m kind of embarrassed….” and, unhooking a carabiner and getting the beets free, he turns away again, perhaps to respect my right to muddle my own life freely. “You got it.” I spend another minute or two trying to figure out how to carry the bag, wet with beet juice, back home, choosing finally to roll up the top as tightly as I can in my fist, and hold it in my hand as I ride.

Below: The remains of my take.the remains of my take

Chicobag: A+. It’s not a backpack, but it survived being mangled in bike spokes, and when I’m not riding my bike, it’s cute as a bug.

Cool factor: D, because at least I tried.

prepping tomatoesThe food:

I fried up the green tomatoes in a mix of cornmeal, salt and pepper. I’ll keep an eye out for local organic cornmeal before July; 70%+ of corn in the US now is genetically modified, so I am taking a hard line on that.

The sauce is just mayo and hot sauce mixed together. Other ideas: goat cheese, herbed cream cheese, sweet chili sauce.

The cukes are good with salt, but the skins are a little bitter…I just ate the middles.

All in all, quite satisfying! I’ll try the beets later.finished fried and cukes