The South Pasadena market is laid out in a T-shape, with the cooked-food vendors lining both sides of the base of the "T", and the fresh produce vendors branching out to form the top of the "T". At the intersection is the largest produce tent - the vendor from whom I bought Swiss chard and heirloom tomatoes previously. Their tent has appeal due to both the wide variety of vegetables they offer, and also the way they merchandise their products. Every type of vegetable has its own laminated description card with the price clearly shown - very helpful!
This week I was in search of zucchini to use in making zucchini bread. They had a bin of baby zucchini labeled at $2 per pound, with some much larger zucchini on the side. I asked the vendor to weigh one of the larger zucchinis for me, and to my shock he said that the big ones were only $3 each - even though they were clearly over 1.5 pounds each. I happily bought a humongous one (see photo below - it was the size and weight of an infant), along with two one-dollar bags of basil, and a small red onion, which he threw in for free!
I also made a quick stop by the J&J Grass-Fed Beef tent to pick up a couple one-pound packs of ground beef ($5 per pound). One of the packs was for my gardener friend, who plans to make a goulash. I had also told a co-worker about the beef last week, which he bought to add to a soup. He gave it a big thumbs up for taste and texture! This stand has become one of my favorites, along with Bill's Bees, as both offer a unique and superior product.
When I returned home, I noticed that this week, the little bags of basil had labels on them that showed the vendor's website, along with a claim that they were "Beyond Organic - 100% Sustainable!" That's certainly quite an assertion! I went to the Jaime Farms website, and while there were some nice blurbs about the qualities of each type of vegetable they grow, there was unfortunately no information on their farming practices, and what makes those methods sustainable...
Saturday morning I went to the Burbank Farmer's Market for the first time! It's held in a parking lot at the intersection of Orange Grove and Third Street, from 8:00am - 12:30pm. Almost all of the tents were produce or flower vendors, in contrast to the cooked-food/street fair focus of the South Pasadena market.
J&J Grass-Fed Beef was there, although the stand was attended by a different man than the one who is always in South Pasadena on Thursdays. There was a larger number of produce tents offering more than one type of crop - a much better selection than South Pasadena. There was also a cheese vendor and an egg seller.
There was a very long line for the eggs, which were $2.10 - $2.50 a dozen, or $3.50 for 20 eggs. This price was better than the $3.00 / dozen for Jaime Farms' eggs at the South Pasadena market. However, there was nothing indicating that the Burbank vendor's eggs were free-range - they were local, but simply labeled as being from chickens fed "natural feed." We bought 40 eggs anyway, since we were preparing for a party, but for my regular needs I will probably be sticking to my gardening friend's truly free-range eggs, or Jaime Farms' eggs, which also claim to be free-range.
I also picked up three types of cheese - white cheddar, goat cheese with sage, and smoked gouda - for $16 total. This vendor's tent had a laminated card indicating the mileage between their farm and Los Angeles, and some information about their practices. Next time I return to the market, I'll be sure to take better notes so I can report back in more detail!
In addition, we picked up a half-flat (6 baskets) of strawberries for only $9, a bunch of carrots for $1.25, potatoes for $1.25 / pound, tomatoes for $2.25 / pound, and a $2 bunch of asparagus. Our haul cost us $39.25 - very reasonable considering half that amount was gourmet cheese!
I definitely plan to return to the Burbank farmer's market. I liked that there was a wide selection of produce, as well as locally produced cheese. However, none of the vendors seemed to offer heirloom tomatoes, and I really like the ones from Jaime Farms. I also like Bill's Bees, which is always at the South Pasadena market, and wasn't in Burbank today. I might not visit both markets every week, but intend to visit each on a regular basis from now on.
For reviews of farmer's markets in other areas, check out the Farmer's Market Report, too!