Sunday, May 30, 2010

Revisiting the Farmer's Market

It has been quite a few years now (possibly six) since I've gone to a Sunday farmer's market. Sure, I've ambled through a few farmer's markets within that time, but usually only because I stumbled upon them by chance, or boredom, and never with the intention of actually fulfilling a marketing list. I used to go to the Beverly Hills Farmer's Market every Sunday with my mom, grandma, grandpa, etc when I was 11 and 12 years old. In fact, that was so long ago that the location of the farmer's market has since moved from it's prior 1-block of Canon Drive to a weird, pseudo street parallel to Santa Monica Blvd behind the Public Library.

However, I love farmer's markets, and not just for the free samples. From a personal standpoint, I enjoy knowing that I am nourishing my body with both local and pesticide-free vegetables and fruits. From a culinary standpoint, I am exposed to new foods and/or ways of cooking them. And, from an observer's standpoint, I wonder at the pride, anticipation, or accomplished feelings that the farmers and vendors must experience as they put their produce out on display, offering up sliced samples in the hopes that you will decide that, yes, this particular vendor does in fact have the juiciest, richest tasting tomatoes at the market.

In the hopes of revisiting these past feelings and with the intention of stocking up on foods for the week, my mother and I headed to the Hollywood Farmer's Market at ten in the morning this Sunday. Why Hollywood, you ask? The Beverly Hills Farmer's Market is not only small and in a location that I do not like, but it brings up bad memories of the past, as I had been terminally ill during that time period in my life when I went to the market each week. Conversely, the Santa Monica Farmer's Market held on Main St and Ocean Park on Sunday is not too far away, but, from my experiences visiting it last year when I lived in Venice Beach, offers more cooked and prepared foods than it does fresh produce. My mother warned me that the Hollywood Farmer's Market would be large and crowded, and although I believed her, I truly was not prepared for the onslaught of human bodies and the three converging rows of vendors.

The selection was plentiful and varied to say the least, the most common vegetables and fruits for sale (aside from lettuces, of course) were avocados, oranges, grapefruits, squashes, string/Lima beans, strawberries, cherries, and blueberries. I was surprised at the abundance of kale variations available, and the noticeable lacking of raspberries, eggplants, and apples. Overall, it was a successful trip, and I ended up, using $32, buying both the items I had set out to purchase, as well as a few surprise goods.

My Purchases:

-2 super large 'bacon' avocados
-2 smaller non-Has avocados
-2 large bags of wild arugula (which means that it has flowers growing on it)
-1 pound of Persian cucumbers
-6 tomatillos
-1 bag chopped cactus
-2 nectarines
-2 bunches cilantro
-4 plum tomatoes
-2 yellow heirloom tomatoes
-1 bunch black kale
-2 small pots of genovese basil
-4 guavas
-1 container chopped Middle Eastern salad of cucumber, tomato, onion, lemon, etc

I'm glad I returned to the farmer's market and I plan on going again soon...if not next weekend, then the next. I suppose it depends on how much of the produce I eat within that time. But I am definitely not going back to the Hollywood Farmer's Market for a while. Too many people, too much selection. Even though it's tiny, maybe I'll just hit up the Melrose Farmer's Market.

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