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Dedicated to Teachers

Perusing The Farmers' Market Like a Scientist


Written by Valerie Bang-Jensen and Mark Lubkowitz, authors of Sharing Books, Talking Science

Farmers’ Markets are resplendent with opportunities to see the crosscutting concepts.

Going to the farmers’ market is a weekly ritual for Mark and Valerie and the crosscutting concepts are as evident as the fresh produce. On a typical Saturday, Valerie heads straight to the cherry tomatoes while Mark chats about gardening, causing him to regularly miss out on the last round of Vermont camembert at the cheese stall. Young attendees and playful adults head for the lemonade and donut stands before making the rounds of artists and face painters. This is a familiar pattern whether you live in the city or the country. Tents, trucks, vendors, food, produce, and shoppers are the repetitive elements that shout farmers’ market everywhere. We know we have entered this system when we cross the boundary--in this case the sidewalk-- and get swept into the smells, sounds, tastes, and shopping that make this event so rewarding. Mark and a farmer are interacting components within this system that complete a transaction about a free range chicken. When the berry farmer tells Valerie “The berries are great this year; the weather really cooperated,” we can see cause and effect at work. Structures such as scales, tents, wheelbarrows, coffee machines, and even the ice cream scoop, all serve specific functions critical to this system. This farmers’ market seems big compared to a solitary produce stand but small in scale compared to the 24/7 grocery store down the street.

What are the crosscutting concepts?

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From opening bell to the last muffin, energy and matter can be seen flowing through this system as shoppers enter empty handed and leave satisfied, with full baskets. The market manager is reassured by the predictable hustle and bustle because this means that the market is stable.  When she hears thunder in the distance, she knows the system will soon be changing as shoppers scramble for cover and the tents are quickly taken down.  

To get you thinking about the crosscutting concepts in books related to food systems and Farmers’ Markets, here’s a start:

Balla, T. (2017). The Thank You Dish. Tulsa, OK: Kane Miller.

Brisson, P. (2014). Before We Eat: From Farm to Table. Ill. By Mary Azarian.  Thomaston, ME: Tilbury House.

Karas, B. G. (2016). On the Farm, At the Market. NY: Henry Holt & Co.

Latham, I. (2016). Fresh Delicious: Poems from the Farmers’ Market. Ill. By Mique Moriuchi. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong, Boyds Mills Press.

Page, S. (2014). We’re Going to the Farmers’ Market. San Francisco: Chronicle Books

Schaub, M. (2017). Fresh-Picked Poetry: A Day at the Farmers’ Market. Ill. By Amy Huntington. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge.

Trent, S. (2013). Farmers’ Market Day. Ill. By Jane Dippold. Wilton, CT: Tiger Tales Books.


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valeriebangjensenValerie Bang-Jensen is Professor of Education at Saint Michael’s College. She earned her A.B. at Smith College and MA, M.Ed., and Ed.D. degrees from Teachers College, Columbia University. Valerie has taught in K-6 classrooms and library programs in public and independent schools in the U.S. and Paris, and was the district elementary writing coordinator in Ithaca, New York. She serves as a consultant for museums, libraries, schools and gardens for children. Valerie’s areas of interest include children’s literature, nonfiction, and connections between literacy and first-hand experiences. Valerie can be found on Twitter at @VBangJensen.

marklubkowitzMark Lubkowitz is Professor of Biology at Saint Michael’s College, where he received the Joanne Rathgeb Teaching Award. He earned a B.S. in Biology at Washington and Lee University and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. He was a post-doctoral fellow in plant developmental genetics at the University of California, Berkeley. As a scientist, Mark studies the molecular mechanisms of transporters and the various roles they play in plants. When not in the lab, Mark can be found riding his bike or tending his garden. Mark can be found on Twitter at @Prof_mlubkowitz. 


Topics: Mark Lubkowitz, Science, Sharing Books Talking Science, Summer, Valerie Bang-Jensen, Crosscutting Concepts

Date Published: 09/19/18

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