Shop small, buy locally

I remember one time a few years ago, when I was insanely pregnant and my husband had to attend a law enforcement training session, that my brother came over to check on me.

Probably to make sure that I was not curled up in the fetal position on the carpeted floor, crying over a Hallmark commercial. Bless his heart for being so brave.

So once he arrived, like any good brother does, he raided his sister’s kitchen cabinets to see what loot she was hiding. (Little did he know I used to hide the Reese’s Cups where I stored the aluminum foil. No one takes a pregnant woman’s chocolate — nobody.) When he got to the fridge, he began to laugh uncontrollably at a juice container I had inside. What was so funny? Was it past the expiration date? Was it growing new juice?

He flipped it over on the back and read, “Seriously? This juice is from Belize? You are feeding your baby juice from Belize?” The thought had never occurred to me before then, that this juice came from overseas where regulations on food were most likely not the same as they were in the United States. That was years ago, and we still joke about the juice from Belize, how large I was as a pregnant woman, and how I now have to change the hiding spot for my secret stash of candy.

Once we moved to a farm, I knew planting a garden was in order. I shared with you a few weeks ago that not only did I successfully not kill this garden, but in fact, it actually grew vegetables. So much so that I had no clue what to do with them and wondered if being a cucumber farmer was really a thing.

Here’s a little known secret about our town: we have a farmers’ market. It is true. And no, I am not talking about the flea market where I once sold a racy Jenny McCarthy book to my best friend’s grandmother by mistake (True story. And I never read it, just so we are clear.). But LaFollette has an actual farmers’ market, where fresh produce, fruits, salsa, jellies, jams, cookies, and coffee are sold weekly and it is home grown by people who reside just miles from you. You can literally eat from farm to table and not have to worry about it being shipped from across the country in a giant truck with questionable packaging methods. These people see growing good, healthy food as an art, and take pride in what they offer to the townsfolk.

So come by and see us every Saturday from 8 a.m. until noon. We will be across the street from Bowman Jewelers in LaFollette in Freeman Park with the giant clock and pretty shade trees, playing horseshoes and Old Maid and selling jars of pickles and fresh cookies. And while you are there, visit with the farmers, hear their stories and be sure to try their corn on the cob and coffee. It is just too good.

And there may just be a little girl there with a lemonade stand and a smile. Shop small and buy locally. And no, her juice is not from Belize.

Christie Elkins is a Campbell County native whose columns appear on the Lifestyles page of the LaFollette Press. She’s a mother of three and a full-time blogger at lettersfromthenest.com.