Sunday, July 4th: And You Know What That Means, Right? It's July 4th!

Yup, it's Independence Day! Time to cook large hunks of dead animals over open fires, drink beer, and blow stuff up. After all, that is exactly what our Founding Fathers had in mind when they signed the Declaration of Independence way back in 1776, right? Woohoo!!! U.S.A.! U.S.A.! U.S.A.!

I believe the "U.S.A." chant the entire rest of the world has come to loathe every Olympics originated at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, New York, when the U.S. hockey team whooped the Soviet team. I actually was there that day, chanting "U.S.A." right along with thousands of other proud Mericans. But back to our 234th birthday party being held today. Happy Birthday, oh land of my birth. Did you know that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, our nation's 2nd and 3rd presidents, both died on July 4th in 1826, while the rest of the nation celebrated 50 years of independence? In fact, these two close friends and political arch rivals thought of each other with their last breaths.

Sure, there are plenty of things that trouble me about the way this country of ours behaves, but honestly, I still must take some time out on this day each year and think of the glorious vision of a "perfect union" our founders had in 1776, and reflect a bit on the trials and tribulations we as a nation have gone through over these many years. I have been reading a lot of biographies of the founders recently, and it is quite remarkable to learn how real they were, in spite of their genius and great vision. They did all sorts of crazy stuff, like Adams's Aliens & Sedition Act, Jefferson's great purge of the judiciary, and Madison's War of 1812. This greatest of generations in our nation's history still was plenty able to screw things up. Now that doesn't mean we should forgive and forget our current leaders' transgressions. Instead, I think it means we all must remain vigilant while not granting any leader a god-like status. In the immortal words of Ronald Reagan, "Trust, but verify." Because even Washington and Lincoln did stupid stuff now and then. Remember, part of being an American citizen is the responsibility to participate in what still is a grand political experiment. This ain't no spectator sport, you know.

That all said, let's also spend today partying our brains out like it's 1776, grilling large hunks of dead animal, drinking beer and blowing stuff up! Woohoo!!! (Oh, by the way, oh dear Seattle-King County Department of Public Health: the above photo is a file photo, taken many months ago, so take a chill pill, puh--leez. It's pretty, don't you think?) Wondering what the heck this parenthetical reference is about? Well, let's just leave it that you may not be able to look at your steak from Sea Breeze Farm today before you buy it, as they will all be wrapped already, but trust me, their meat will still eat just as well this afternoon on the barby. Oh, and did you notice that the first three photos  were about red, white and blue new potatoes, respectively? Thank you, Summer Run, for having red, white and blue potatoes in time for Independence Day, so that we can all show off our patriotism to our picnic compadres with red, white, and blue potato salad!

Just in time for your July 4th barbecue, Loki Fish has begun selling a new season's worth of fresh salmon of every ilk at your Ballard Farmers Market. They catch it up in Alaska and fly it down here as quickly as they can, so it is still super fresh by the time you get it to your table.

And we've got peaches in the Market today, too! Just look at these beauties from Collins Family Orchards. You'll need some of these to eat before and after dinner today. Just imagine that peach juice dribbling down your chin and dripping onto your shirt, before you wipe your chin on your sleeve. Oh, happy day! It is summer!!!

Purple Haze (carrots) runnin' through my brain. Heck, Hendrix is quite famous for his rendition of The Star Spangled Banner as Woodstock, right? And Oxbow Farm is quite famous for its carrots. These puppies are fine chomped on raw, but they really shine when you cook them. How about you throw some on your grill this afternoon, for a change of pace. But get to Oxbow early. They invariably sell out of their carrots early.

Oh, yeah, baby! Talk about making the Pete Rose slide under that tag (you like how I just worked America's favorite pass-time into this post?), Lyall Farms delivers the first green beans of summer just in time for you to make your famous green bean salad for this afternoon's picnic. How cool is that? Of course, you will have to buy more than you'll need for the salad, because you know you are going to be eating them right out of the bag on your way home.

You will be needing to get your slaw on today, too, right? For that, you'll need some cabbage -- lots of cabbage. This lovely cabbage from Alm Hill Gardens will do the trick. Are you a vinegar or mayo slaw person? Me, I can go either way, though a nice, simple, mayo slaw with plenty of freshly ground black pepper has always pleased me.

Okay, I am writing this in the wee hours, and I can use some shut-eye before another fabulous day of Ballard Farmers Market. Before you click on the What’s Fresh Now! pages to see what all else is in season right now, please take a moment to vote for Ballard Farmers Market in American Farmland Trust’s America’s Favorite Farmers Markets contest. Just type “Ballard” in the search box, and it’ll take you right to the page where you can vote for us. And if you have a good, used digital camera what needs a new home, I am still looking. Post a comment.