Friday, August 26, 2005

The Barter System - It's Not Just for the Dark Ages Anymore

This little bungalow houses the Black Mountain Farmers' Market. On Saturdays they host a tailgate market. I never knew of it's existence until yesterday. I stopped in on my way to pick up Monkey from her new student orientation. I picked up four lovely, freshly picked Ginger Gold apples. I chatted with the proprietess, Elaine, and found out that they stock mostly local produce and wares. They order non-local produce and other items through an organic wholesaler. They even carry jeans and overalls made an hour away in Tennessee.

It seemed Elaine was running out of some produce as the season winds down. She had a lot of people requesting cucumbers. I happen to have cucumbers. She said she'd take ten. Today I brought her ten cucumbers of nice size, weighing close to five pounds. In exchange I took home about five pounds of apples for the Monkey. Maybe we'll make some apple crisp this weekend.
On Monday I'm going to go exchange some of my surplus of cherry and yellow pear tomatoes for homemade pasta. Bartering is good.

Got Milk?
I found out an answer to my continuing confusion about why there seemed to be no local organic dairies. It is quite difficult and expensive to get certification. In North Carolina all milk must be pasteurized. I'm a skim milk kind of girl, so I don't mind pasteurization. And I guess I was spoiled coming from a dairy and beef raising region of the country. I was used to my milk coming from local dairies and co-ops. My parents would buy a half a cow from someone they knew (or a relative of someone they knew) and stock the freezer.

Now, I'm going to share with you a big secret. There are no such laws in South Carolina and you can buy un-pasteurized whole milk from small dairies. So, every two weeks, the market takes orders for milk and someone travels to South Carolina to buy milk. It's $8 a gallon (about double the price than if you went to the dairy yourself, but you have to cover those gas costs). I don't think I'll be paying for that luxury. However, a local farm just got certification to make cow cheese and they will be carrying it soon. I love cheese...


  1. Woo! I read the s.o. the part about bartering, and he said exactly what I was thinking: "That's how it's supposed to work." That's so excellent. I hope I can work something out like that someday.

  2. It is a nice system. I get rid of things that I don't need, and get something I can use in return. It's a win/win situation.