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Lettuce go to the farmers’ market this spring

By June Mathews

It’s taken a while to completely rid ourselves of winter around here, but spring seems to have finally sprung in earnest. Cool mornings are giving way to pleasantly warm afternoons, and the dull hues of late winter have become lovely shades of green overlaid with occasional splashes of color.

This, I have to say, is the best part of the season. Not the part I dealt with about a month ago when a heavy dusting of pollen blanketed everything in sight, clogging my head and leaving me with a three weeks-long nasty cough that compelled everyone within hearing distance to run in the opposite direction for fear of contracting some dread disease.

But with that unpleasantness over, I plan to enjoy the rest of the season. And among my favorite things to do in the spring is going to the big farmers market across town.

Roaming up and down aisles lined with the bounty of God’s creation never ceases to be a delightful experience. It also inspires me to load up on fresh foods like green beans, squash, and corn, and actually take them home, cook them, and eat them. Experts say the appearance of food is the first sensory criteria for deciding what we want to eat, making a good case for walking through farmers markets and staring at things that are good for you.

The thing is, I’ve always been more of a meat-and-potatoes (translated: hamburgerandfries) kind of girl than a true vegetable eater. So going to farmers markets hasn’t always been at the top of my list. But despite not caring for stuff like cauliflower, eggplant, bell pepper and such, I’m a huge fan of the variety of colors and shapes. So yes, I like vegetables, but not always for their taste or nutritional value. I think they’re pretty.

And for somebody with so little a green thumb, I also have a highly romanticized desire to put in a garden and grow my own veggies. But as I learned from Daddy’s backyard garden many years ago, taking the time and effort to do more than dream about it is another thing entirely. Going to the farmers market is much easier and way more enjoyable, as far as I’m concerned.

Given my history with vegetables, however, it’s kind of funny that the place would hold such an appeal for me. As a kid, I hated turnip greens so much that I’d surreptitiously poke them into my jeans pocket and leave the table as quickly as possible to go flush the soggy mess down the toilet. Back then, I was naïve enough to think Mama never knew the difference, but I somehow think that big old pocket-shaped wet spot on the side of my jeans probably tipped her off.

I hated lettuce, too, hardly ever touching it until I was in my 40s, and only then due to peer-pressure by my salad-eating lunch buddies at the office. I eventually acquired a taste for it, but not without the help of generous dollops of blue cheese dressing. I was feeling pretty good about finally being grown up enough to eat a lettuce-based salad without choking when somebody pointed out that my dressing of choice was loaded with calories.

But you know what? I ate it anyway. You see, life is full of tradeoffs, and for people like me, eating vegetables is sometimes just that. And if you want my opinion, eating a bowlful of near-tasteless lettuce in exchange for the pleasure of slathering it with blue cheese dressing seems like a pretty good trade to me.

Email June Mathews at jmathews120@charter.net.

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