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All about creating abundance by gardening!

   Oct 03

‘Yes, we have no bananas.’ At the farmers market, Cambridge, first fall Sunday, 2013. ‘Our raspberries are delicious. Very delicious.. But we have no bananas today.’

Farmers Markets are a great asset to any community.Here’s some shopping tips to help you get the most from your shopping experience.

This article was written by Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. Queen Mary of England and all the dominions beyond the seas, wife of that most stolid of sovereigns, King George V, was always accounted the most prim and proper of queens, the model of firm, unyielding rectitude, smiles to be dispensed rarely, if ever… and as for laughing… absolutely unthinkable, my dear, quite impossible.

But this view of Her Majesty is wrong, wrong, wrong. In fact, the queen had a resounding laugh she deemed vulgar and an acute sense of humor so raucous that she made it her lifetime duty keeping it under control… for of a certainty a rip snorting belly laugh, princely gums clearly visible, and the imperial Raj, all ermine and brilliants, go ill together…. as King George let the little lady know on the day her carefree rendition of “Yes! We have no bananas” filled the royal corridors… the day distinguished by high hilarity, bobbed hair, a noticeably shorter skirt, warbling to a ukulele; all signifying unwonted, exhilarating freedom and license …

“We’ve string beans, and onions…/ We have an old fashioned to-mah-to/ A Long Island po-tah-to/ But yes, we have no bananas/ We have no bananas today.”

The King, aghast, was not amused. “Mareeee, you forget yourself”, the atmosphere instantly distinctly frosty and austere. And so she had… and so we all should from time to time, for life in ’13 is complicated enough, difficult, frustrating, aggravating… no piece of cake… which is why I decided to use this rollicking little number to accompany my article.

It hails back to the 1923 Broadway musical “Make It Snappy” by Frank Silver and Irving Cohn. My favorite version is by Selvin’s Orchestra, though Eddie Cantor’s original version is “23 Skidoo!” You’ll find it in any search engine, and, once heard, you’ll smile, this insidious, rambunctious tune calculated to lift anyone’s spirits… even haute royalty seemingly beyond thawing.

The Josephs were groggy, sleepy, late.

My driver Aime Joseph and his always beguiling wife Mercedes are usually the soul of promptitude, but not yesterday. They were late… provokingly late… and I was impatient, as I can easily be when I know what I want and want to get it immediately, no waiting, no excuses, no ifs, ands or buts. Being on time at the Farmer’s Market, 10 a.m. sharp, was such an event… opening without me present, avid, keen for the big clock to ring out the commencing hour to the world, was unimaginable.

And so I called the Josephs to chivvy them along, hinting darkly that if they didn’t shake a leg, I would take to my sometimes unsteady pegs at once, leaving these fine folks in their luxurious bed behind… for they are Haitian born and do not move to my insistent Midwestern beat, a world where the early bird gets the worm, even when one does not particularly care for the vermiform form… and that’s a fact.

Of course they must offer a suitably plausible excuse, one lifting responsibility from their unwilling shoulders to… mine. “We thought the rain would put you off.” These were, of course, fighting words… a gauntlet thrown down, no matter how politely, insinuating as they did that I was somehow pampered, effete, decadent, decayed, decrepit, degenerate even slothful and lazy; all charges, explicit or implied, I rebutted at once, the best defense, as always, a strong offence deftly, immediately, conclusively delivered.

With immaculate dignity and a stern bearing the tangible, unmistakable result of centuries of careful breeding, condescension to my aristocratic fingers, I dismissed their paltry point with finality. The rains had stopped; a sliver of sunshine already apparent… the wares were displayed… their sellers at the ready… the only thing lacking… me… and my purse. Cancel, indeed! The very idea… I caught myself sputtering with righteous outrage. From such unconsidered, ill-advised comments ensue great feuds of the Hatfield and McCoy variety, but not today. The feud could wait… but the farm fresh produce most assuredly could not.

The lay of the land.

Now it is time to review the entire market, learning what it is, how it works, and how to secure the greatest benefit, the choicest fruits and vegetables, thus the happiest and most delectable of results. There is here, as elsewhere, a system for getting the most for the least, a system most of the other customers, clueless urban dwellers never know and which I only share because of my well- known eleemosynary disposition.

1) Draw up a list of what you want and the quantity. It is easy to overbuy at such a market. Everything looks so good.

2) Eat a little something before you arrive at the market. Shopping when hungry triggers overbuying.

3) Make it a point to arrive precisely when the market opens, if you want the very freshest morsels. You do.

4) Walk through the entire market before buying anything. Do a complete and thorough reconnaissance. Many stalls will sell similar merchandise. Find out where you get the best deals.

5) Always stop at the stalls offering a taste of this, a sample of that. Make it a point of honor to try new things. That’s one of the great benefits of such a market. Note: if a vendor doesn’t have samples out, ask to try what interests you.

6) Always ask the sellers for a card. Note your favorite items and your evaluations. Keep this information readily at hand for those days when you must give way to gustatory temptation.

7) Set a budget for your purchases. Like I said, it’s easy to overbuy. Do try to restrain yourself. Buying a few dozen apples may seem like a good idea but seeing them growing older and forlorn will cause chagrin.

8) Always bring a friend with a good eye and strong arm. Your job is to make decisions, give, orders, coordinating all. “Mr. Joseph, two pounds of plums.” This is the proper and efficient way to shop, transport and store.

And they’re off…

Now it’s time to get serious, using your elbows and wits, jockeying for prime positions. Remember, this not merely shopping; it’s a Darwinian battle, only the fittest surviving to enjoy present spoils… constantly learning and so preparing to win future spoils, too. And what are today’s spoils, edible trophies of eye, cultivated learning, discernment and unrivalled diligence, organization and purchasing acumen? Here are just some…

The fine Cortland apples, the late season blackberries, the unparalleled Concord grapes so desirable for home-made jams; these are not merely so many fruits and vegetables… on and on, my total purchases just a shade under $60, that so hefty because I insist on the unequaled jams concocted by Hi Rise Bakery. They know their discerning audience is hooked on such regal combinations of strawberry rhubarb and strawberry raspberry. They gouge us accordingly.

Now it’s time to leave. Aime and Mercedes are devouring the superb scones, a small bribe for future punctuality. They are satisfied. But I have the feeling I missed something, something important. Bananas. And then the song simply burst from me, and though banana-less as I most assuredly was, I astonished my audience, as Queen Mary had once astonished hers…

“Yes, we gotta no banana/ No banana/ We gotta no banana today/ I sella you no banana.” Oh, my, I’ll send a copy of this article to Debbie at Kimball’s Fruit Farm; “I’ll be the one in the red shirt.” I’m sure she and her ingenious colleagues will think of something. What about that ukulele? It worked before…

About the Author Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is the author of over a dozen print publications, several e-books, and over one thousand online articles. Republished with author’s permission by Patrice Porter  Check out PC Health Boost at


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