Dispatches: The Roadside Market

Route 524, Allentown, NJ

The United States is going through one of its worst droughts since the 1950s. Corn and soybeans are decimated. More than 60 percent of the continental U.S. is in drought conditions, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has declared a disaster area in more than 1,000 counties countrywide. This goes all the way back to that warm winter we here in New Jersey experienced.

It’s hard to believe it, though, as I drive around Monmouth County where I live. The cornfields seem to be high and teeming, but that’s to my untrained eye.

I’ve also noticed quite a few roadside stands offering local vegetables for sale. These are from the big farms in the area but the quaint little stands where a honor box (or coffee can) is used to note the sale and mark change. Little stands like the one above, just down the road from me.

As I see these, though, I’m reminded that they certainly aren’t particular to New Jersey, or to the United States. I’ve seen these little (and not so little) stands and markets all over the world.

Somewhere in Nicaragua

Mumbai, India

Mukawa Town, Japan

Rome, Italy

Fengxian, China

Every where you go, outside food sales is part of the culture. It’s part of someone’s lively hood, either a lot or a little. Maybe that person on Route 524 in New Jersey just has an overabundance from their backyard garden, and they want to make a few extra bucks, but probably that family in Fengxian depends on making their quota and selling their goods.

It all comes down to having it and selling it.

And when there’s a drought going on like there is now, it makes it all that much more harder. If you see these stands near you, pull over, drop a couple of bucks in the tin or the can or the box, and enjoy the fruits of someone’s labor.

© Mark V. Krajnak 2012 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved

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