Making farmers' markets contagious: a Taylor Swift story.

Why now? Why did I start listening now?

Making farmers' markets contagious: a Taylor Swift story.
Apples, Main St. Farmers' Market, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Wed. Oct 25

Listened to my first Taylor Swift album a few days ago. My very first. I know, I know. Half the world adores her. I'm a little behind the times.

But it's not as if I don't know her songs. I'll even hum one around the house.

Hopped off a plane at LAX, with a dream and my cardigan ...

"Dad," my daughter groans, "that's not Taylor."

We watched her documentary together; I started with folklore, then, Lover. It became quickly obvious: she's talented. Abundantly, unquestionably, massively talented. 

So, why now?

Why start listening now?

Today’s column isn’t really about Taylor.

It's about our patterns of behavior. Why we change. Why we don't.

Millions of people adore Taylor. What made me finally start listening?

What made me finally try it?

Each week, Food as a Verb publishes a list of every farmers' market in town. (See below.) We do this for a very clear reason.

We have a vision that our farmers' markets can become cultural and culinary epicenters, packed with people from all sorts of zip codes, befriending farmers, buying food that is immeasurably healthy and delicious

We're trying to make local food and farmers’ markets contagious.

"Ideas and products and messages and behaviors spread like viruses do," Malcolm Gladwell wrote in his classic The Tipping Point.

Main St. Farmers' Market, Chattanooga, Tennessee

For many years, I never thought about markets. Bought all my food from grocery shelves. Then, my consciousness grew around food. I began reading the old copies of Gaining Ground. Met Jeff Pfitzer. And Rick Wright. Friends, documentaries, Michael Pollan – they all began nudging me to market.

So, for the first time, I went.

And once you encounter local food – food harvested hours ago, grown by hands that you can shake, cultivated on farms a half-hour away – you will never be the same.

One thing led to another. Now, the market’s a highlight of my week. 

So, if you haven’t ever visited a farmers’ market, consider this a Taylor Swift moment. 

Ron Shaffer, Red Clay Farms, Main St. Farmers' Market

This fall, consider visiting just one market. Take $10. Buy something you love. Enjoy the fresh air. Sometimes, there’s music and beer. Other times, pumpkin pie. Apples. Coffee. More produce than you can imagine. 

Farmers are inviting. Kind. Never pushy. Always helpful. Over the years, I've asked more clueless, non-farmer questions than I can count. Nobody batted an eye.

I’d love to offer a money-back guarantee. If you buy something and don’t like it, Food as a Verb will reimburse you. (Financially, we're not there quite yet, but you get my point.)

Red Clay Farms, Main St. Farmers' Market, Chattanooga, Tennessee

This Sunday, we're profiling a local restaurant owner who does, however, boldly make such a promise:

"Don't like it?" he says. "Don't pay for it."

Once you meet him, you can't help but fall in love.

He is a man with a most painful, powerful and loving story. Taylor's not the only one who deserves a standing ovation.

Bryan Slayton does, too.

See you Sunday, Food as a Verb community.

Bryan Slayton, Bad Wraps Inc., MLK Ave., Chattanooga, Tennessee

All photography by Sarah Unger. Visit

Story ideas? Interested in sponsorship opportunities + supporting our work? Feedback or questions? Email David Cook at This story is 100% human generated; no AI chatbot was used in the creation of this content.

Food as a Verb thanks our sustaining partners for their generous support.

Regional Farmers' Markets

  • Main St. Farmers Market, Corner of W. 20th and Chestnut St., near Finley Stadium

Wednesday, 4 - 6pm

  • Brainerd Farmers Market, Grace Episcopal Church, 20 Belvoir Ave,

Saturday, 10am - noon

  • Chattanooga Market, 1820 Carter Street

Sunday, 11am - 4pm

  • Ooltewah Farmers Market, The Ooltewah Nursery

Thursday, 3 - 6pm 

  • Signal Mountain Farmers Market

Pre-order online for Thursday pick-up between 4 - 6pm at Bachman Community Center

  • St. Albans Farmers Market, 7514 Hixson Pike

Saturday, 9.30am - 12.30pm with a free pancake breakfast every third Saturday  

  • Walker County Farmers Market

Wednesday, 2 - 5 pm, Rock Spring Ag. Center 

Saturday, 9 am - 1 pm, downtown Lafayette, Georgia

To include your farmers market, email

Dig in. (It's free)