Saturday, May 8, 2010

Eating Out The Food Gestapo

Ohhh, here we go boys and girls. It’s time for the mixed message post. This morning, I done got me an urge to ask the people of the Vineyard Farmer’s Market the burning questions that I made up in hopes that you too, my beloved public, would want to know. And the day started off in the most lovely fashion.

First we stopped off with our friends at Fabiano’s to ask our silly questions. Fun and hilariousness ensued. Next up, we went over to Perfect Edge Sharpening for his take on things. I must say, I was happy to be schooled in some of the subjects I was asking about. For a dude who works with metal, he knows his stuff about the things that it cuts. And so we jumped around. Sun Smiling Farms, Moa’s Farm, VT Iwo Ranches (the Kumquat Lord), the awesome preserves lady and the nursery dudes, all understood that we were there to have a goof and happily played along in the spirit of stupid bloggery, answering what they wished, ignoring what they thought was dumb.

Then the vibe changed. As I sidled over to the KMK Farm’s table and asked if I could give a goofball interview, suddenly things got cold. Like frost burn your Peter Peppers cold. At first I figured, “Hey, folks can be busy and not want to fart around with a jackass.”. I *AM* a jackass afterall. But it slowly got weirder and weirder. Like an outlander in Children of the Cornville. I was waiting for a giant ginger kid to call me out while he was dragging my woman through the market in chains.  Outlander!  We have your woman Outlander!!

So it’s in the midst of my interview with the lovely ladies of Moa’s when the owner/manager/organizer/Lady Master of the Vineyard, Felix happens to pop in with a “So what the hell are you doin’ in my backyard?” vibe. Like somehow I’m a NARC or something. Apparently it was a terrifying debacle when I asked folks how many people they had working their acreage. Like I was somehow a drunken reprobate representative of Child Protective Services hunting for abusers of child labor. KISS MY ASS! I *WAS* child labor. Totally legally to boot. Your folks own the land, it’s part of your chores. City kids take out the garbage, country kids tend the farm.  That's country living.

And the worst part about this sudden, ugly change in attitude is how terribly misperceived my intentions were, by the Organic Powers That Be. I love local produce. I love local farmers. I love that I can meet them personally, develop a passive customer to farmer friendship. That these lovely people recognize me and are happy that I want to wake up early to buy the bounty of their lands and labor. And I want to highlight that the FARMERS themselves were nothing but open and kind. The only ugliness came when the Vineyard owner decided to drop into the middle of the interview and sniff us out just in case we were Dept. of Agriculture/Labor/CIA/FBI/NSA/CSI/NCIS, and when the watercolor lady decided to point out that we appeared to be rabble rousers out to cause strife and trouble in their little community.

Quite the opposite! My intentions this morning were to ask some fun, funny and a couple poignant questions of the grand people who get up at 5am to provide we lucky Fresnans with their goods and services. I myself, beyond being a lame ass food blogger, attend the market to frequently blow between $50 and $100 per visit. In the course of today’s blogging jackassery, I still managed to spend about $85 spread amongst my favorite vendors. And to be honest, I left with $5 still in my pocket that I fully intended to spend as well, leaving me with empty pockets and too many good things to logistically eat before time and biology render them inedible. Why waste so much cash? I’d rather waste my money on local farmers than have grocery store veg going bad just as readily in my crisper.

But this…this is a hard crux for me. You see, short of the cold shoulder threeway, each and every vendor at the Vineyard Farmer’s Market is still my friend. I still want to buy their delicious goods. But. And it’s a BIG but now. A huge part of me doesn’t want to be paying into the “club” or “clique” society that attempted to close ranks with me on the outside. It boggles my mind that there would be such a hostile vibe towards someone who only wants to say good things about the market. It created in me an instant opposing sentiment towards something that I had cherished only minutes before. And strangely, the thing that turned the vibe was someone asking questions in a light hearted and friendly way, so as to be able to further promote their goods and maybe be able to add in some interesting tidbits and conversational topics to better help the Fresno food buyer make the decision to wake up early on Saturday and go get some excellent, local, produce.

To everyone that gave us an interview, I pledge that I personally and Eating Out Fresno as a whole shall not say anything defamatory or mean about you or your products. I very much meant what I said at the outset of the interviews. It’s for a goof. I like food. I like you guys and girls. This is for fun. Hell, I don’t even merchandise the site, since I could care two shits less about the half nickel a month I’d get from Gooble. And I will follow through and put together a fun and uplifting post based around your answers. I might even try to highlight some of the stronger points made about issues that are very important to Valley farmers, such as my convoluted and poorly worded question about the uses of the Central California watershed. But I’m sorry to say, that the people you pay for spaces at said market did a bang up job of making me and my wife feel very unwelcome. It wasn’t my intention to write an angry piece. But they put forth a superlative effort to direct me towards being the person they perceived me to be.

Ladies and gentlemen. Business owners and growers. I am but a simple blogger. I have no cause for which I fight, except maybe decent customer service and quality of product. And the growers at the market fight on the same side that I do. They’re outright wonderful. But, you should be aware that some people, by way of their perceived authority can reflect poorly on everyone when they decide to be reactionary and unfriendly. I carry no press card, and I have no authority over anything except this sad little blog. I dress like a scumbag to highlight the fact. I’m a nice, if goofy guy. If you were really terrified that I was there as an undercover sting operation for underage labor…well, I guess I must have that secret government agent look about me. Poor choice in judgment and poor eyesight in spotting a Fed. It’s not like drug enforcement, where they let the undercovers grow their hair long and “imbibe” to gain people’s trust.

Were we an actual news publication, we’d be ethically bound to contact our detractors and get their input on the situation before we go to press. But, I haven’t slept, haven’t had enough beer to make a difference and got piss poor customer service from what serves as the manager of the market. So, as concrete proof that we are neither undercover Bee reporters or agents of any governmental office, we’ll go to press half assed, with the short, but powerful impressions that ruined an otherwise lovely morning.


P.S. For reference, these are the horribly invasive and dangerous questions I was asking.  All answers were optional, and alot of folks felt free to use "No Comment" without any further digging by myself.

1: How many acres do you farm?

2: How many people do you employ?

3: Do you farm organic? Why/why not?

4: What is your favorite produce that you grow? And the Least?

5: What is your most profitable produce?

6: How do you feel about heirlooms vs hybrids vs proprietary Monsanto style copyrights (Frankenfood)?

7: What do you think the best item to eat every day is? And the worst?

8: If you could make beer out of any plant you grow, what beer would it be. What would you name it?

9: Peter peppers…whats your standpoint on pornographic vegetables?

10: Do you think vegans are the new wave of diet fads? Or do you they they’d be delicious to eat, since they’re free range organic long pig?

11: Can I touch your squash?

12: Is it ok if your squash touches me?

13: As a farmer, what is your general stance on the California water situations, vis a vis the projected new dam construction, water being pumped hundreds of miles to other municipalities and 100 year old family trust contracts with the state that give a tiny minority of the state a vast access to it’s yearly watershed?

14: If you had to name 12 people for a Pin Up girls of Fresno Organic Gardening, who would you nominate and how many would be from Sun Smiling?

Terribly dangerous questions aren’t they? Ah well, back to undermining 3rd world regimes for The Man.