Living Matters: Supermarkets just can’t compete with the country

The car ride was huge when I was a kid.

The car ride tended to happen on a Sunday, given that this was generally the only day in the week when father wasn’t working.

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We’d pile into the yellow Impala — father, mother, the sisters and me — and head for what my parents called the country. We were city-dwellers, so the country was a treat.

The sisters and I would bounce about in the car while mother and father chattered. We weren’t restrained in seat belts because the Impala didn’t have them.

We’d marvel at the size of the acreages, the calmness of the river and the enormity of the barns. The car ride took us past things we never saw in the city.

We always made two stops: first, for ice cream, then for produce.

If there was ever a single destination on the car ride, it would have been the farm market. No one had to say that’s where we were going. That was always understood.

Mother had her favourite. It was a large affair, off a gravel road deep in the country.

We would stop, and mother, who generally traded in a dress for her slacks on the car ride, would have leapt from the Impala and into the market, where she would swish about and marvel at the size of the zucchinis, the beans and the heads of iceberg lettuce.

The sisters and I would wander round the market, inhaling the smells of the country, sneaking the odd raspberry and gawking at the market staff as if they were foreigners.

Mother would collect the bounty, handing off much of it to father, since she wouldn’t have been able to carry it all. We’d go home with a bit of everything: beets, potatoes, peas, tomatoes. There would be radishes, onions, carrots, corn, you name it — enough to feed the neighbourhood.

This, then, was nothing like shopping at Super-Valu. That might have been about convenience, but this was about the experience: the car ride to the farm.

I am my mother’s daughter. Don’t give me the supermarket when it comes to peas and carrots, especially at this time of year. Give me a farm stand in the country, where I can smell the country air.

The country, it turns out, is where I happen to live right now. I don’t need a car ride to get there, but I do need a fix at the farm.

Mother and father taught me well. The country is where you find food.

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