Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Stuff You Might Like: Produce

I blogged last year about CSA California, where I got a mixed bag of farm-fresh produce. I've actually stopped getting bags from them in favor of going to the local farmer's markets and picking out my own fruits and vegetables (the CSA bag was great, but I didn't get to pick what I wanted). I've been going to the Sunday market on Ventura Place at Laurel Canyon, and the Tuesday market on Woodman at Riverside (in the mall parking lot).

As you probably know, shopping at farmer's markets is much better for the environment than shopping at grocery stores because of the reduction in energy used to transport the produce. (I feel like the "The More You Know" star should fly across the screen at this point.) And it may be a little bit more expensive, but the food is so much better. I did a taste test - I bought some strawberries at the grocery store (because they were 88 cents and I love strawberries) and then I bought strawberries at the farmer's market. The difference was amazing - it was like comparing strawberries to iceberg lettuce shaped like strawberries...the grocery store berries comparatively had no flavor. My friend Donna says it's because grocery store produce ripens on the truck while farmer's market produce ripens on the vine (or in the ground, or whatever). Donna also says that once I start eating fruits and veggies from my yard garden it's going to be even more of a taste difference, so yay!

Both markets have their strengths and weaknesses...here are my reviews (titles link to official websites):

Sunday Farmer's Market in Studio City

A great selection of everything, but go early if you want yellow beets. My favorite goat cheese is there (the vendor is called Mom's and it's the herb goat feta), as well as the Japanese cucumber vendor and the guy with the amazing baguettes. There's also a vendor that seems to specialize in root vegetables - I got sunchokes there a couple of weeks ago and they were awesome. This is the market to go to if you want a big selection and would like to try some new things.

Parking can be a nightmare - I almost got into an altercation with an angry driver last time I went. It's pretty crowded and the crowd is unfortunately slightly oblivious to their spatial relationships...the type of people that come to a dead stop in front of you or walk slowly and diagonally in your path. But whatever, it's Sunday and it's early and they're probably hung over. No dogs allowed, but my friend Bethany who has a dog walking/sitting business goes there with a crate and dogsits while people shop.

Tuesday Farmer's Market at Woodman/Riverside

This one's a bit smaller but has some great vendors, and I love that they're there until 8 pm. My favorite vendor there by far, and the best deal, is the flower guy. Where else can you get five stems of tuberoses (my favorite flower) for $3? He'll tell you how long the bouquet will last (usually a week to 10 days) and he's not been wrong so far.

Dogs seem to be allowed - I've seen a couple there and I think I might take Bear today since I'm just grabbing a couple of things. The only drawback to this market is size and selection, but you can find pretty much any basic fruit or vegetable in season. No sunchokes though.

There's a woman who specializes in goat cheese, and I got a tub of cucumber/jalapeno goat cheese once that was spectacular. The fruit guy towards the end has some amazing apples, and the lettuce woman had the best pack of strawberries I've gotten this season.

And speaking of lettuce - both markets have a lettuce vendor with a blend called the "Special Mix." It has flowers, herbs (including amazing purple basil) and an assortment of baby lettuces. I've pretty much become addicted to this lettuce and sometimes go to both markets in one week to stock up.

If you want to read more reviews, here are the yelp pages for both:

Studio City Sunday Market

Woodman Avenue Tuesday Market

Happy shopping!


EM Lewis said...

MMmmmm... I love farmers markets! The one in Santa Monica is walking distance from my apartment, and I love (on Saturday mornings when I'm not in workshop) to walk down there and peruse the fruits and vegetables. The library is right on the way, so I usually stop in there, too. Makes for a lovely, restful start to the day! Thanks for the post.

NoHoJax said...

Thanks for the comment!

I did wind up taking Bear to the market yesterday, he was shockingly well behaved.