South Pasadena Farmer's Market

Today is Thursday, which is when the weekly South Pasadena Farmer's Market is held. Before I moved to Burbank last fall, I lived only a couple blocks from the Mission and Meridian metro station where the farmers market is set up from 4-8pm.

Recently, I have made an effort to start going again. It's not that far out of my way when I'm returning home from work. But now I go specifically for produce. In the past, I went to socialize with friends and get dinner from the food stands (think pupusas, tamales, Peruvian fried rice, bratwurst...), and I largely ignored the produce vendors besides occasionally picking up a basket of strawberries. There are only about a dozen small tents in the back of the market, and the cooked food vendors up front seem to be the main attraction.

However, upon closer examination (or due to my somewhat recently expanded palate for vegetables), the produce vendors actually have a lot to offer. This was my third week in a row of visiting the farmer's market, so I'm starting to get a sense of what is in season. I came with shopping list in hand and visited three vendors. At the first tent, I bought a colorful bunch of Swiss Chard, two varieties of tomatoes, two small bags of basil, and an onion, for a total of $9. Another vendor had pears and fuji apples for $1.75 per pound - I spent $5 there. Finally, I purchased a $5 pound of California range-fed ground beef (not pictured).

The same vendor that sells the chard and tomatoes also sells eggs from free-range chickens for $3 a dozen (the carton contains both white and brown eggs), which is quite a good price! I am especially a fan of their heirloom tomatoes. Below is a close-up shot of the heirloom variety next to a more typical tomato for color comparison. They are so deep red as to be almost brown, and are intensely flavorful! I've become quite a fan, and have bought a few of this type on my last three visits. If anyone recognizes the breed, please let me know :)

Right now there are a lot of baby squash, particularly zucchini, and strawberries are also abundant. I also saw some asparagus and broccoli still, which in my friend's garden are both done for the season. Citrus fruits are plentiful, but there were also several vendors selling fuji apples. Some stands were dedicated to a single product, for instance potatoes, baby greens, sprouts, and of course the honey and beef that I mentioned previously.

FYI, I would advise bringing not only your own sturdy shopping bags, but also some smaller plastic or mesh bags as well. They are helpful to keep different types of items separate in your larger tote, and if you are buying something that's priced by the pound and not by the bunch, the vendor needs to be able to weigh your items in a plastic bag. The sellers all provide plastic bags for this purpose, but they are generally of the handled shopping-bag variety, not the thin produce bags you see at grocery stores. Sorry if this is just obvious to everyone else, but even though I brought my own large shopping totes the first time, I still found that I needed to use the vendors' plastic bags as well.

Now, I must confess, there is actually a farmer's market in Burbank only 2 miles from my apartment. Sadly, I still have not gone in the 8 months I've been a Burbank resident. The farmer's market is held on Saturdays from 8:00am - 12:30pm. I have commitments every Saturday afternoon, so mornings are often packed with other errands. However, I have vowed to check it out - SOON!

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