Voracious this year is celebrating our local farmers markets with a series of poems extolling what's newly ripe and ready for sale. Each week during market season, we'll run a poem from a local poet who's found inspiration in the region's bounty. And should you find yourself feeling similarly inspired after reading their odes to romaine lettuce, nectarines, pea vines and gooseberries, the Neighborhood Farmers Market Alliance has provided us with recipes featuring each of the edible muses.
There are all sorts of high-minded reasons for shopping at farmers markets: Buying from local farms instead of big supermarket chains can help support the regional economy; reduce fossil fuel expenditures and save money for consumers.
But plenty of eaters aren't thinking about money, health or the environment when they trundle to the market with their tote bags. They choose to shop at the market because they want to visit with friends, try out a new food truck, or - if they're anything like this week's featured poet - supplement a failed backyard garden crop.
Carl Palmer of University Place has run into trouble with cabbage. But he's had success with his poetry: The son of a Virginia chicken farmer, Palmer has published poems in England, Scotland, Germany, India, Algeria, Australia, Canada, as well as the U.S.
by Carl Palmer
Tommy toe cherry tomatoes,
carrots, radishes, leeks, red cabbage
along with cilantro, chives and oregano
attract flocks of lovely white butterflies
to my first raised bed garden.
Holes suddenly appear in my cabbage leaves
with dozens of small green caterpillars
feasting upon the crop in front of my eyes.
The seasoned gardener at the local nursery
replies, "cabbage worms" asks if I'd noticed
any white waxy wing moths, explaining further
they lay eggs that hatch in a day and eat
constantly until three inches long or when
food sources are gone, whichever comes first.
Noticing my shocked expression, he replies
"The butterflies were quite pretty, weren't they?"