Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Santa Monica Wednesday Farmers Market

Many years ago, while working as a summer intern for Governor Jerry Brown in the mid-1970's, I witnessed the development of legislation that gave birth to the Farmers Market movement in California, and helped to launch such movements in other states. I suspect what we see today in California, far exceeds the original goals of this direct marketing program to benefit small farmers. Along with a strong organic food movement in California, the Farmers Market can provide an opportunity to experience a wide range of fruits and vegetables that never make it to the grocery chains or even the upscale markets. In addition to providing local jobs, creating a community of chefs and purveyors, your local Farmers Markets functions as a public plaza, where one almost always crosses paths with friends. As one supports a local Farmers Market, you will develop a bond with your favorite sellers. With the advent of branding by these farmers, it is much easier to spread the gospel of a favorite seller, i.e. Weiser Farms, Maggie's Farm, West Coast Fish, Harry's Berries, etc.

I am afraid to admit, one market I had never been to was the Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market, on Arizona at 2nd Street, just off the Third Street Promenade. I have been many times to the Saturday Santa Monica all organic market, but never the one on Wednesday. This is the one frequented by the "foodies" and chefs of Los Angeles and provides the backdrop for Laura Avery's weekly market report featured on Evan Kleinman's weekly KCRW Good Food radio program, available as a podcast from Itunes or on the KCRW website. The Wednesday Santa Monica market met and exceeded my expectations and at times I felt like I was in France with a number of residents and tourists speaking French. I also saw for the first time, baby purple artichokes with no choke; the same as in Provence. In fact the Wednesday market has many types of produce that aren't found in any of the other local farmers markets in Los Angeles, as the vendors know that there is a market for these items in Santa Monica.

So get yourself in the mood by listening to Laura Avery's weekly market report while commuting on public transit or in your car, and treat yourself to the surprises that can be found in Santa Monica, Hollywood, Pasadena, Long Beach, or any of the many Farmers Markets in LA. Much of the produce changes with the seasons, and you will soon have your favorite vendors.

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