May 24, 2007

To Market, To Market

It's official: Palo Alto will get our second farmers' market, opening Sunday, June 3 just steps from my office on California Avenue. It may be slightly more slickly produced than the Saturday downtown market, but can you really have too much?

My three favorite reasons why farmers' markets are great -- apart from the camaraderie and the quality of the food:
1) When else do you get the opportunity to actually talk with the people who grow the food you eat? The corn doesn't come from some faceless Nebraska corporation, the bread isn't shrink-wrapped. Wondering how to know when a persimmon is ripe? Ask the grower. These people are genuinely excited about what they have produced. Somehow, that makes their food taste even better.

2) They are a wonderful way to get in touch with the seasons. No plums, Pluots® or Apriums® in March, please -- not even organic ones. The bad news is, this will shake you out of your comfort zone when you can't buy asparagus in August. The good news is, this will shake you out of your comfort zone when you get to try cardoon in August.

3) What's more exciting than trying new food? By definition, small local farmers have small local farms. And they're not going to waste their resources trying to compete with the big farms that grow big quantities of the most common fruits and vegetables you'll find shrink-wrapped in Safeway. Thus, cardoon. And homemade marmalade. And heirloom eggplants. And purple cauliflower.

(By the way, kids often enjoy this kind of diversity -- give 'em a few dollars and let them choose their new favorite vegetable for tonight's dinner -- and it's nice to learn that food comes from the Earth, not the aisle.)

I hope I'll see you on California Ave. on June 3!

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