Season of the Ag Fair

Yes, you know these, it is time for them to crop up all over.

They range in size from “afterthought of a comma” to the Big E (the two-week long exposition up in the Springfield Massachusetts area that highlights all the New England states).  There may be even larger ones in other areas of the country.

(A demo image snapped from produce bought from a roadside stand)

A few years ago I attended the Bridgewater Fair one sultry August Sunday, and felt badly for the displays of wilted, uneaten, and by now inedible produce neatly arranged with red or blue or other colored ribbons, laying out as waste, (or perhaps more charitably, as future compost) on plate after plate after plate.  Heirloom tomatoes that had once beckoned saliva more surely than any sweet confectionary; cucumbers that had just a few short days before, promised heavenly gustatory delights.  After several days plated out in the upper 90’s, the remains begged for cremation.

I got to my first seasonal Ag fair yesterday, the one in Middlefield, Massachusetts.  It does lean towards that “afterthought of a comma” direction, but they, too, have plates of ribbon-winning vegetation.  It’s been cooler, and this was a Saturday, so the produce still looked edible.

But it all gets me to thinking, as I look at the truck/tractor pull arena, and the guy selling alleged household aroma deleting spray, and the baby bunnies looking for homes, and the children’s pie eating contest — if the point of the agricultural fairs is to highlight agriculture, in a social and connecting way (with the games and contests as the glue), why is all the actual food served at these events so… um… unhealthy?

The ground meat in the burgers and sausages are CAFO in origin, and let’s not think about hot dogs.  Then there’s everything sugary under the sun.  And, fried dough.  At least, the lemonade stand at this fair makes their lemonade as you watch, in individual portions, and if you are fast enough, you can say NOOOOOOO, maybe a quarter of all that sugar, please! They look at you as if you surely might not be sure, but they’ll comply.  They did sell buffalo-style chicken wraps, and another wrap that boasted a lot of mayo, but I wasn’t sure about them, either.

I settled for a sausage with pepper and onion, hold the bun. I’d at least get a few veggies in my meal.   But, Hold the Bun???

“Hmm, we never had a request like that before.”  The two guys manning the both looked at each other.  But they complied, and I went off to acquire a fork from another booth, and chowed down.  At least the onions were not greasy (the peppers didn’t appear to make it into my meal).

I know that people aren’t often interested in going to fairs and not eating cotton candy, burgers, fries, and fried dough, and this should of course be available to them (as a kid I just loved cotton  candy, by the way), but it just seems odd that agriculturally-based fairs don’t have a booth selling, say, grilled zucchini or eggplant.  At some, you may see corn on the cob, but that appears to be as far as this goes.  While I understand most of us aren’t going to pay for a humanely-raised burger, especially in this economy, once in awhile it would be great if this could crop up at one of these fairs.

At Garlic Festivals, you actually can GET garlic.

I will be attending a few more in the next couple of months, (and as a volunteer at one, with a friend) and if anything interesting happens, will report back.

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About goatsandgreens

The foodie me: Low/no gluten, low sugars, lots of ethnic variety of foods. Seafood, offal, veggies. Farmers' markets. Cooking from scratch, and largely local. The "future" me: Building a log home in rural western Massachusetts. Will be raising chickens and goats/sheep. Raising veggies and going solar.
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