Thursday, July 30, 2015

WC Sentinel market column - 7-31-15

My daughter Cora was telling me about medical care in Australia where she lives. She took daughter Madeleine in for her 4 year vaccinations, which was preceded by a 45-minute interview with the nurse. One question to Madeleine was “what is your favorite food?”  “Vegetables.”  “What kind of vegetables?”  “My favorite is broccoli!”  (That's Madeleine being a tiger!)

Cora was pleased. I was too of course, but I told her that I wouldn’t be surprised if many of the children who visit the market have similar responses. 

Last Tuesday we put out a “left-overs” bin for the children eating the Free Kids Supper. Officially the purpose was to let our farmers’ pigs enjoy the leftovers. But we also wanted to see what kind of food waste we had.

The bin was full at the end of the supper, but three-fourths of the “waste” was watermelon rinds (which the pigs love). About gallon was actual food waste, and of that only about six cups was fruit and vegetables. Not bad when each of 85 kids received over a cup of fresh fruits and vegetables. Apparently these kids love their fruits and vegetables, at least the ones they get at the market. It’s so hot that we serve as much cool and raw as we can – cantaloupe, sweet pepper strips, cherry tomatoes. The bonus watermelon slices were a big hit.

When we teamed up with Central United Methodist Church and the Missouri Department of Health to serve the meals, we anticipated buying as much of the fruits and vegetables as we could from our farmers. It hasn’t worked out that way – almost always they insist on giving it to us. Tuesday we served watermelon donated by Owen Detweiler. I told Owen, “you need to let me buy this from you so I can ask you for more without worrying about it cutting into your income.”  He responded, “I want you to ask, but you can’t pay for it.”

So far we’ve managed to spend $55 on produce for over 450 meals – that’s .12 a meal. Owen is just one of five farmers who have supplied produce for the supper. You may get weary of me saying it, but I work with a fine group of farmers. 

And with a fine group of volunteers. Central continues to schedule, train and supervise about seven volunteers at each supper. Some come from the church, of course, but others are not connected to the church. They just want to be part of a lovely community service. And it became even lovelier this week when the market decided to add music to the experience. 

If you’ve been to the market, you know we love our music and our musicians. And we love our new big tent that the Joplin Area Food Action Network bought for the kids supper. But the tent is too far from the pavilion to hear the music so I called Marshall Mitchell (left) who usually plays the first Saturday of each month to come entertain in the tent. Marshall loves performing with and for kids. He’s specializes in cowboy music and comes complete with cowboy hat, mustache and sawhorse pony. He was a big hit and we’ve got him coming back this Tuesday. If we can come up with a few spare tables, we may even break out the checkers and chess sets and the coloring pages that we set out during winter market. 

Today we welcome the Loose Notes to the market stage. The Loose Notes play bluegrass and gospel, with a few cowboy and railroad songs thrown in. M & M Bistro serves lasagna, moussaka, chicken pita wrap, gyro, hummus and tabouleh plates and baklava. Lumpy’s Express will have barbecued ribs, beef and port and smoked chicken with sides.

On Saturday, Cooking for a Cause benefits the Ozark Gateway chapter of the Audubon Society. Interested in birds?  The folks dishing up the biscuits and gravy, sausages and eggs cooked to order are too!  Marshall Mitchell is performing.  (right - that's some croissants from Red Lab Farms.  They come on Saturdays.)

On Tuesday, Marshall returns to the supper tent. The Pommerts will play in the pavilion. Carmine’s Wood Fire Pizza is back baking artisan pizza to order from 4 to 7. Supper with Trish begins at 5 – ham salad or chicken salad sandwich, two sides, dessert and drink for $5. The Free Kids Supper runs from 5 to 6:30 and will be sloppy Joes, cantaloupe, cherry tomatoes and milk.  Extension will serve samples of melon kabobs!

And good news!  The parking north of the pavilion has been restored. It was torn up by installation of a gas line to the kitchen, but Missouri Gas Service has smoothed it out and you no longer need four wheel drive to park there. Life is good at the market. See you there!