I really should have a bumper sticker that says: Will Brake for Farm Stands! I'm a sucker for these direct market roadside attractions, especially in the fall in the Northwest when wooden shelves are groaning under the weight of beautiful apples, squash, pumpkins and dried beans. I'll take one of everything, please, and especially if it comes from an unmanned stand, where you pay on the honor system. What an amazing show of faith in the basic goodness of produce-loving people. Here are 3 ways farm stands make the world a better place, doubling as reasons you should visit one real soon.
1) A Way Tasty Demonstration on Why Fresh is Best
There's no doubt eating more fruits and veggies is good for you, and the chances of consumption go way up when you taste produce that goes from the tree to the stand in a matter of feet. No fuel is used to transport the crops to warehouses where they're stored in oxygen-deprived environments to extend shelf life. OK, yes, you're driving to the farm stand, but the amount of fuel used is a whole lot less than a big truck. Steamed at my premise? Here, take a bite of a juicy Jonagold. Wow, bet you've never tasted anything quite like it. Are you hooked yet? Thought so.
2) There's a Chance to Meet the Farmer
Small farmers are heroes, working tirelessly, at the mercy of Mother Nature and crushing competition from corporate agribusiness. In recent years, more shoppers have become savvy to the benefits of buying direct from farmers. And before taking issue with the prices, take a pause to realize small farms are not subsidized by tax dollars. I'm always pumped to meet the hard-working women, men and kids whose efforts make delicious things grow. I always learn something new and cool. During a stop at Pleasant Ridge Farm in Skagit Valley, I practically jumped for joy when hearing that the operation had planted a whole bunch more Pink Pearl apple trees. Those are also known as the World's Most Beautiful Apple, and I cannot wait until that expansion project bears fruit.
3) Farm Stands Feel Like the Best Kind of Throwback
There might be a corn maize to explore, or animals to pet, maybe even apple cider to sip in a setting that feels like the coolest kind of community. Most farm stands are pretty basic, while others have added entertainment as a draw. A fair number of farm stands I've visited operate on the honor system, asking shoppers to leave money in a metal box. Is there anywhere else in the modern world where that kind of trust exists? Maybe it's a little bit corny, but this kind of setup makes me feel warm and fuzzy.