This Rebecca Skloot’s article starts to sum up the conundrum I’ve faced with our farmers market (and philosophical & political issues–will save those thoughts). All semester long I wrestled with frustration over why certain people never came to the market? Why people complained about our offerings? Why, no matter how many flyers and facebook updates we posted, did patronage wax and wan so greatly between weeks? Ms. Skloots provides the answer: it’s because there are market people and Bob Evans’ people.
Here’s an excerpt from her article, “Two Americas, Two Restaurants, One Town”, which I strongly encourage you to read.
Some of it is simple aesthetics: I think fresh food tastes a lot better than frozen, and I want herbs instead of salt. Local art on colorful walls makes me happy, and fake old-fashioned teakettles make me sad. Mostly I love Baristas because of the buzz, the energy I feel when I’m in the midst of people who thrive on resisting predictability, like the Catholics who come to Baristas to hear Buddhist monks speak about reincarnation, or the Republicans who came in to meet the Kerry people who stopped by one night to stump.
Maybe I had an idea that I could convert people — that I could persuade some Bob Evans folks that they should be open to change, that the food really was better at Baristas; and maybe persuade some Baristas people that the Bob Evans people are interesting and funny and friendly, too. But in all my time shuttling back and forth between the two restaurants, I didn’t change a single person’s mind. At some point, it hit me: it’s not just New Martinsville. Bob Evans people and Baristas people live together all over the United States. They often go to the same stores and send their kids to the same schools, but try as they might, they simply can’t understand why anyone in his right mind wouldn’t eat the way they do, think the way they do and vote the way they do. Unfortunately, I’m not sure a burger can change that, not even a really, really good one.