Growing up, I don’t remember ever visiting a farmers’ market.
It wasn’t until I moved to San Luis Obispo, CA for college and discovered their rich Thursday night tradition that I became enthralled with them . The SLO Farmers’ Market is a little different than the ones I have discovered up here in Norcal. There’s more music and prepared food, and although there are fruit and veg produce vendors, it’s not the main reason people go.
I hunted through old college photos to try and find some pictures of this fabulous market, but instead I found pictures like this:
Now that you’ve seen me sufficiently weird, we can accept it and move on!
Anyway, when I moved up to San Francisco, I heard legends about the epic-quality of the Ferry Building Farmers’ Market. I remember visiting the first two times and only venturing through the booths in the front. It was great, but it wasn’t anything spectacular. Less music and less prepared food, and it certainly required more fortitude to get up on a Saturday morning than the SLO market on Thursday nights.
It wasn’t until the third visit that I actually went INTO the Ferry Building and through to the back that I discovered the glory that is the Ferry Building. Fresh cheese, pastries, fruit, vegetables; it’s a mecca of local food. It was new, it was exciting….and everything cost an arm and a leg. I was dismayed to realize that the “Farmers’ Market is a source of cheap produce” idea didn’t apply here.
I had also just moved to the city, didn’t have a well paying job and was already scraping to make ends meet. Now, I do occasionally shop at the Ferry Building if something strikes my fancy (read: asian pears and A.G.Ferrari toffee).
My newest produce love is the Alemany Farmers’ Market. It’s not nearly as pretty as the market at the Ferry Building, and not everything is organic, and everything is just a little bit grungier. There are fewer (if any) tourists because it’s at the intersection of the freeways in a semi-sketchy part of town.
But I LOVE it because I got all of this for $32:
You can’t go wrong with all of that for $32.
So if you are lucky enough to live in a place with multiple markets, explore a little! The first one might not be the best fit for you but you might fall in love with another.
If you don’t have multiple places to visit, that’s okay too. Buy what you can at your market and supplement from the grocery store – that’s what I did for a long time and it worked out just fine!
Until next time…