Saturday, June 20, 2009

Farmer's Market Shopping Spree

We usually go to the Alemany Farmer's Market, but this week we shopped at the San Francisco State Farmer's Market, which is just up the road by Lake Merced. I go to farmers markets for a lot of different reasons beyond the importance and logic of buying local. I like friendly people who know where the veggies came from, produce that is fresher than what's in the store and food that is better for my health. There is the entertainment factor. There is always some sort of delicious prepared food for lunch. Sometimes there's music. I like handing my money to the person who will keep it and use it. Not a worker who hands it to another worker who hands it another worker who hands it to a finance person who hands it to. . . you get the idea. And the lines are shorter - it's alot more fun than going to the grocery store!

We left this morning on our bikes, me wearing a backpack with a market bag and plastic sacks inside. Mr. Green has a carrier on the back of his bike, so he'll get to strap down the less delicate of the produce on the way back. After pumping up all tires, (we
haven't ridden our mountain bikes for a few weeks) we were off to a nice downhill ride most of the way.

The market isn't huge, but it has a nice selection of produce vendors, about ten, half certified organic and half not. We started with corn. We talked to this vendor last week and said we'd be back so I felt obligated to buy from him even though his corn doesn't look as fresh as the corn in the stall next to him. I picked up four ears and asked how much they are. He says fifty cents apiece.

Then he says, "You'll really like those ears." "The seed is expensive." "It grows great and doesn't require any spraying or anything."

My mind is now yelling - YIKES! Spraying?!

I'm positive that last week he said he wasn't organic but it was only because they hadn't been on the land long enough and they don't use pesticides or herbicides!

Mr. Green says, "Do you think it's GMO seed?"

The farmer says, off-handedly, "I don't know."

Mr. Green and I exchange "the look".

Now what do I do? Say thanks but no thanks and buy from his neighbor or buy the corn and live and learn? It might be GMO. It might not. It's not like I've never eaten GMO corn. Considering that I've eaten corn on the cob since I got my front teeth, and I grew up in a large farming community, I've eaten a lot more GMO corn than non-GMO corn.

I'm already standing there holding four ears. I buy them. I'll ask first next time.

Then it's a container of Rainier Cherries. Big and fat and yummy looking. Expensive and irresistible. They won't be around much longer, so we'll eat another pound. They won't last past Monday evening if they last that long. I know that the Bings are better for us b
ecause they are dark red, but we like the flavor of the Rainiers.

We are picking up ingredients for Mr. Green's Paella, which will be the main dish for Sunday dinner. So, a couple small yellow zucchini, green beans, peas to shell, tomatoes and two fresh heads of garlic with greens still attached. There is a bread vendor - Beckmann's from Santa Cruz - so a loaf of whole wheat bread which is really going to save us from visiting a regular grocery store this week. Yeah! And, he's giving samples of their angel food cake. It's to die for yummy. I'm not buying any, but it's a nice treat.

We end our shopping spree by sharing a crepe filled with spinach, tomatoes and cheddar cheese seasoned with a little lemon juice. Tasty and filling and just really good. We also bought a slice of banana bread and apple bread from the sweet French nun who is raising money so they can build a shelter here in the city. If you talk to her, you'll buy something just because she's so nice.

What did we leave for others? There were all different types of summer squash, peppers, various colors and sizes of tomatoes, fresh salsa, artichokes, onions, various colors of beets, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, snap peas, strawberries, soap, fresh drip coffee and coffee beans. Also, beautiful bouquets of flowers which would never survive the bike ride home. Oh! And fresh fish. Six or seven different kinds of locally caught fresh fish.

One of the coolest things there were artichoke blooms! I've never seen them before. They are huge and the "choke" blooms out Purple. Smells sweet and slightly artichokey. Who knew?!

A note about the soap: She's happy to talk about how she made them, what is inside them and which is best for different skin types. She has a lot of different kinds. They scent combinations are wonderful. Not overpoweringly smelly. Nice.

A fun little market without all the hustle and bustle and big crowds of the Embarcadero market or even the Alemany market. An easy shopping experience. I recommend it!

We packed up the produce. I took the fragile stuff in the back pack, including the bread. Mr. Green got all the tough stuff and ended up with a nice garlic tail cascading off the back of his bike. We looped around the lake and back up the Avenues. We stopped by a yard sale along the way and got a $5 DVD player to replace the one that went to DVD heaven recently. A young French couple and their two children are moving to Mexico City to work at a French school there. He teaches math in French. She teaches French in French. Good luck to them and may they be safe.

Once home, we stowed the bikes back in our crowded garage. Frank took the truck back to pick up the DVD player. Impossible to carry on the bike. I unpack the produce, take its picture and then add it to the other stuff in the fridge. Except the cherries, which I wash and start eating immediately! So sweet and really juicy.

What did we spend? With the two bottles of water that we bought because we forgot to bring water from home (I'm ashamed to say), about $38. Produce was only $23 of that. Well worth it. With the veggies left from our CSA delivery, a lemon and almonds purchased from the little market up the street, and the stuff in our pantry, we won't need anything else this week.

How far away did the food come from? The furthest was two hours. About 120 miles. Not bad.

I obviously need to write down the purveyors of all this stuff. I feel bad that I'm not mentioning names and farms. Next time I'll take my tiny notebook with me. As I sit finishing up today's blog, we are snacking on the cherries. We've eaten more than half, already!

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