Farmer's Markets - How to Shop
My first choice for fresh produce is Farmers' Markets. Most Farmer’s Markets have a huge variety of things to buy. My favorite is the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays. A good tip is to follow a restaurant chef. They know the vendors with the best of the best. Unfortunately, most shop before the market is open to public. It took me a while to develop a list of my favorite Farms. When I can't make Wednesday’s Market, Sunday’s Brentwood Farmer's Market is my other option.
Farmer's Markets Rules:
Buy seasonal: This reduces allergies and provides the highest benefits.
Ask where the farm is located: Good soil and clean water produce superior fruits and vegetables. Some farms are depleted of good soil and rely on synthetic fertilizers, resulting in loss of health benefits, flavor, and taste. Soil is a very important factor in flavor and nutritional values.
Ask what they use to control pests and the type of fertilizer/s they use: Often, at the Farmer's Market, asking if the product is organic will not ensure the product quality, unless the farmer is willing to provide USDA certification for the product.
Choose smaller farm vs larger: Often, organic products that were grown on large organic farms (contracted by big food industries) have considerably less beneficial nutrients than small mom and paps farms. Application of organic pesticides and fertilizers are scheduled and not used as needed thus resulting in overuse of organic pesticides that in large quantities are harmful to soil and humans. Small farms can change and adopt best sustainable and eco-beneficial farming techniques with ease compare to industrial scale farms. Farms that exercise combination of crop rotation, biological control (spiders), pest resistant crops, habitat enhancement (to suppress pests), and crop nutrient management practices produce the most healthy and delicious fruits and vegetables.
Develop a relationship with the vendor: Often a vendor will bring a product specially for you if he or she knows you will buy it.
Try new vendors: Taste, aroma and flavor (not the size and sweetness) are the indicators of the nutrients in fruits and vegetables.
Ask if you can visit the farm: Even if you don’t plan on it. If the farmer has a problem with you seeing the farm, don’t buy from the farmer.
Buy heirloom fruits and vegetables: Every category of fruit and vegetable has at least 2 or 3 varieties that have the highest nutritional value and cancer fighting abilities.
Sunday's Brentwood Farmer's Market
It is a lot of fun. You can bring little kids to ride a pony or pet farm animals. You can buy a Persian rug, or unique piece of jewelry, and other fun homemade-non-food items. It is a fun place to meet your friends for breakfast or lunch and try different local homemade foods.
The vendors are friendly and happy to talk to you.
I am always in search of new Farmers who provides superior products, get excited when talking about their farm, and knows a lot about sustainable farming.
One recent new find is an extremely energetic tattooed dude who sells the best organic, fresh, and delicious eggs (ANGELO'S FARMS). He is so excited about his eggs that he calls the chickens "my girls." He is very proud of the quality and flavor of his eggs. Sometimes he also sells seasonal fruits and vegetables that grow on his farm. That is exactly what I look for: seasonal and grown in small amounts.
Eggs are a great source of complete proteins and other beneficial nutrients, but if they are not organic or GMO-corn/soy/ free do not buy them.
Standard commercial chicken feed is made of corn, soy, wheat, and some other synthetic or natural additives. Most of the FM eggs are from chickens that were fed with standard commercial feed, unless the farmer can prove that the eggs are certified organic. If the seller says that the chickens eat is what the farm grows, do not believe it.
Chickens require some protein, calcium, and other vitamins and minerals. Greens alone can't provide these nutrients unless the soil, in which the chicken pastures, has a lot of bugs, worms, and other minerals. Natural feed does not mean free of GMO and other unhealthy components. GMO free corn, wheat, and other grain are good source vitamins and minerals.
In the image above you can see the difference between Angelo's Farms eggs and those you purchase at the store. Angelo's egg yolk stands up tall and the color is a dark orange. The egg white is clear and almost transparent. This means the egg has higher nutritional value, fresher, great taste, and the chickens were not just fed with soy and/corn.
See you Sunday in Brentwood. I will be there with my red wagon and may be with my teenage daughter.