Oh, how I once loved you. This past weekend, something died just a little.
I fell in love with Baltimore’s famous market when we first moved to the city. It was part grocery shopping, part festival, and part people watching. A slice of Baltimore life mingling all variety of urbanites, from hipsters and hippies, struggling families, to obviously wealthy city dwellers.
It was laid-back, casual, and even when crowded, fun.
Sadly, after some time of not being able to go, I discovered the market has changed. A lot.
The crowds were bigger. People brought strollers. Not compact umbrella strollers. I mean those rolling behemoth SUV-type strollers that require a hoist to load into your minivan. These things do not belong at a crowded market.
The parking lot was filled with SUVs and minivans. The people disgorging from them looked like they’d stepped right out of a J Crew catalog, or perhaps Eddie Bauer and the bumper stickers were all from schools outside the city limits.
A few aging hipsters toting floral diaper bags and toddlers were desperately trying to maintain their hipster vibe. Dude. You are carrying a Vera Bradley diaper bag and driving a minivan (it’s not even a hybrid). Skinny jeans and facial hair aside, you have officially lost your hipster status. Just sayin’.
Speaking of diaper bags, control yours, please. One particularly clueless dude pelted me multiple times with the “wet diaper” storage section of his bag. I was in line. He backwards-walked into me. No awareness. No apology. Eww. OK? Just… ew. That stuff was stinky.
The usual array of homeless folk has expanded to near epic levels. As has the usual array of folks asking for donations, signatures, etc. And what is up with the people pitching tents in the parking lot? Really?
Apparently, this is now the plant market, as you couldn’t walk five stalls without finding garden plants, herbs, and – WTF – house plants. No fewer than 12 vendors were offering the same spring mix, micro greens, kale, and various other green leafies.
The number of vendors hawking things like flavored oils, bottled cider, “fresh-made” salsa, and other essentially packaged foods has increased significantly. As has the number of non-food related vendors. There were also several vendors whose meager wares looked like they’d been picked from a home garden, and not in a good way.
A few of my favorites are still around – the fish monger, the mushroom lady, and the best dairy around – a stall I love stopping at, though they are often crowded, they enforce a certain level of etiquette, and their shoppers appreciate (and obey) it.
Not so at the stand where I bought strawberries. I had singled out two baskets for myself, and was waiting while the clerk finished making change for the previous customer, when another shopper reached over and snagged one of the baskets I had selected. Harumph.
At the end of the trip, I had not gotten everything I needed for the week, and on the way out I realized…
The farmer’s market is no longer really a place for groceries. It’s more like a county fair or festival. It’s a place to go, see, and be seen, eat foods you don’t normally eat, and maybe buy some things you don’t normally buy.
I think I’d rather sleep in on Sundays, thanks.