Saturday, July 16, 2011

A Visit to Athens Farmers Market

By Syed Irfan Ashraf

Excursion trips and study tours are the prominent parts of SUSI fellowship. However, experiencing the American culture is another fun during the SUSI program. To explore the cultures in small towns, about 15 SUSI 2011 scholars visited the Athens Farmers Market on Saturday morning. One could see vegetables and fruits including green onions, kale, basil, chard, peppers, cucumbers, zucchini etc. and the market is put up twice a week.

Frankly speaking, about 80 small vendors set up along the street is not a glorious view at all. However, the fun part of the activity is not in what the farmers were selling there, it was in how they were selling them. Perhaps any vegetables' market in my home country (Pakistan) would offer a much more glorious look, but here in Athens I observed a unique approach to business. The way farmers were talking and exchanging views with their customers seemed to me more of a family affair than a business.

To get a feeling of the market, I reluctantly went close to a farmer selling pies by the name of Grandma's Rolling Pie. Both the husband and wife sitting in the stall were extremely cordial fellows. Not only were they friendly but also they offered me a piece of pie to eat. Ummmmm it was really a treat to eat the home-made pie out from a 100-year old recipe that the gentlelady claimed to have learnt from her grandmother. Here started the family story. In fact, the story was more juicy than the pie itself. " I am not happy with my husband because he doesn't like to do enough work with me," said the lady while looking away from her husband. But her husband Tom was quick to reject the complaint saying, " If I am right, and I know that I am right, the whole of the kitchen work is my duty, which I always did." It took me half an hour to enjoy their conversation and observe the way they were handling their customers.

Moving around for another half an hour in the remaining stalls, I got to know that this is how thing works in the farmers market. Buyers and sellers enjoy so much intimacy that one cannot distinguish between them. Why? Because they all are members of a single large family called Athens.

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