Opening the nation’s farmers’ market

Today, FreshFarm Markets here in D.C. opened their fifth farmers’ market in the city. Great, you say.

No, REALLY great, I say: The new market is two blocks from the White House, and Michelle Obama came and spoke at the opening. Talk about great positioning.

Michelle Obama talks vegetables at the Vermont Avenue FreshFarm Market opening

Michelle Obama talks vegetables at the Vermont Avenue FreshFarm Market

The First Lady talked about how getting farmers into cities creates better access to good food, and how access to better food — and the wherewithall and knowledge to buy and cook it — has the potential to make us a healthier nation. The mothers in the crowd heard her when she said, “we go for fast food to stop our children’s whining, because really, we all just want to stop the whining.” The office workers in the crowd applauded wildly when she remarked that bringing the food to them — parking this market right where they work and commute — might make it easier to put a healthy dinner on the table. And everyone yelled and whistled when she acknowledged the farmers around her for their hard work in bringing us our meals.

The two women who had the vision to launch the FreshFarm Markets so many years ago just beamed and beamed.

And Secretary Vilsack took his moment at the podium to announce a new U.S.D.A. grants program to support farmers’ markets and the kinds of community they build.

It’s been a long time coming, this national conversation about food, and the people and farmland it takes to produce it, and the systems that get that food to our fridges, tables, schools and restaurants. National visibility can put the whole shebang into overdrive. With so many who have worked so hard for so long, it is only natural to believe at this point that the conversation will turn into action and new approaches. You could almost hear the creaking today as this big ship kept making its turn into a new course.

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