Ruby Beets

by Roxanne Garcia

I consider myself lucky to be part of the local farmers’ market movement here in Tucson. Every weekend I have the opportunity to purchase delicious food that is locally grown here in the region. February brings with it a plethora of citrus and greens, while in other parts of the country lay buried in mountains of snow. Crisp fresh greens, cabbages and roots lay bundled dewy with water droplets clinging to their leaves. I am in admiration at the beauty of it all. It was during the Sunday market that I was looking over the day’s bounty when I had a conversation that struck me as quite funny-Debbie from Sleeping Frog Farms and I were talking about the beautiful colors and ripeness of the bok choy cabbages. Then we moved on to the ruby beets, beautiful blending of forrest green of each leaf and the bright crimson of the bulb. I am sure that listening to our conversation is similar to those in a jewelry store amidst the gleaming gems, however, ours was over beets! I must admit my heart goes pitty pat over the bright oranges, and the bountiful displays in each individual tent. At once we laughed at our exuberance over something so simple as a beet, however, it is just the beginning of a love affair, but one I must give fair warning to those gentlemen that are reading this…not all women would be excited at the prospect of receiving a ruby beet as a gift.

For me I am thrilled to be able to transform the expanse of concrete into a vibrant community of farmers, merchants, friends and neighbors who come to the market to experience the colors and tastes of our regions bounty. Sometimes I do get a little annoyed with the large chain and box stores tout the words ‘farmer’ and ‘local’ or use the words ‘farmers market’ in their campaigns, or because of the popularity of farmers’ markets you find many popping up-that are just craft shows – when me and my farmers’ market family work hard to develop a ‘sustainable community’ for those of you who have chosen to buy your produce directly from the producer. You will find when you take that bite of crisp apple or juice from that local orange that it may have cost you just a smidge more, but the effects of your support outweigh the cost, for your health, for your community and for the future of the land. For me a ruby beet is priceless.