Looking for homegrown products? Find a local market

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

“Come on in and look around. Everything is cheap,” barked the man in the booth at the market. He has done this before, probably more times than he cares to remember.

I was at Wimberley Market Days, held monthly by the Lions’ Club. It was one of our stops recently as we explored the Texas Hill Country.

I am a sucker for any event with the word market in it. Angleton has its Peach Street Farmers Market weekly and Market Days twice a year. I frequent both, and we look for markets wherever we go.

You can’t buy better stuff than at a market when it comes to freshness and uniqueness. Farmers markets often have some live music and free samples and giveaways. Angleton does, as does Pearl Farmers Market in San Antonio.

They are a great place to shop and chill, sit back and watch people, grab a late breakfast or lunch. Fresh onions, I’ll take them. Loaf of bread baked this morning? I need one. Some potatoes and peaches, honey, and jams, grown and made by local farmers and producers.

My market days started when I was eight years old, when my grandmother used to take me on her shopping trips. She bought some eggs and vegetables for soup and every now and then a chicken.

Once she bought a live chicken. We just watched it eat and move around in a cage. It ate out of our hands, and all the kids fed it. The adults didn’t realize what they had done.

When the chicken was served for dinner, none of us kids touched it. We ate everything else, but not the chicken. After that, grandma bought chickens at the market that were already slaughtered. No more live ones because they were cheaper.

Grandma had a soft heart, but didn’t much show it when it came to chickens. She just saw them as a food source. She used to keep several of them around her yard until the neighbor’s dogs finished them off. She even tried to save one’s life by giving it some aspirin. It died anyway.

“How local is this honey?” I asked the vendor in Angleton on a recent outing to the market there. “About two miles down the road. Is that local enough?” He replied. Yes, that’s pretty local.

That’s what I like about local markets. There is always something new, out of the ordinary, like the guy barking in Wimberley that his shirts are cheap.

Next door was a record shack. It was a real shack. Singles and albums, and a few record players. You know that I’m a sucker for all that, so I had to go look. It took a while. I had to go through several cases before I found the Rolling Stones “Sucking in the Seventies” album for only $6. I grabbed it up.

The sales clerk sat in a chair in the back of the shack and let people browse as they wished. When customers was through with a crate of albums, she went behind them and restored alphabetical order.

She didn’t say much, but was friendly. She looked much like a 1960s hippy, except older. Hippies back in those days were young and full of idealism. They then grew old, and some decided to stay in the past and run record shacks.

Or, she could be some company executive during the week who sells records some weekends. Who knows what path the flower children took after the flowers started wilting?

“Come on in and look around. Get out of the sun. Everything in the store is cheap,” kept yelling the vendor. “Get you some run-arounds for only $2.”

I got a T-shirt, and a collared shirt for $5. There were some jewels in his collection of bottom-of-the- barrel stuff, but it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. It was a lot of fun, and we came away with some good finds.

Local markets are everywhere. Find one in your area, and go visit. You’ll have a good time, and you’ll get some locally grown or made products that you really need – more likely want.