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  • Writer's pictureLatifat Apatira, MD MPH

Farmer’s Market Treasure

Farmer’s Markets are treasures for any city. A weekly congregation of community members, farmers and their staff coming together for the sake of sharing wholesome and fresh foods. They are an opportunity to acquire affordable produce and meet new people, all while enjoying the morning sunlight and fresh breeze.

What could be nicer?

As a child, my mother would wake up my brother and I early on Saturday mornings to attend our local farmer’s market. We grumbled about being pulled from our warm beds and complained about being asked to carry the loot she purchased. But as I got older, I realized the benefits of my mother’s Saturday morning routine. We were exposed to an incredibly array of seemingly exotic fresh fruits and vegetables often not on display at Safeway. We spoke to interesting people and learned how diverse cultures prepared foods. We made friends with farmhands (often resulting in even better deals on our purchases). My mother’s wise decision to take complaining kids to a morning market paid off at the end.

Winter Melon! This produce is new to me!

While I no longer attend farmer’s markets regularly, I did have the opportunity to go to the Alemany Farmer’s Market in San Francisco last weekend. What a visual joy. Hundreds of people streaming past and stopping at stalls filled to the brink with colorful and tantalizingly fresh and healthy treats. The Alemany Farmer’s Market is ancient and, according to my web search, was the first farmer’s market in the state of California. It’s been located at its current spot—the intersection of Highway 101 and Interstate 280 since 1947. I remember going there as a kid in the 90s, selling girl scout cookies under a beach umbrella when I was seven. My parents bought my brother and I pet day-old chicks from the market when I was 10 (and yes, they grew up to be roosters!)

Operating every Saturday, the Alemany market is different from some of the more upscale markets that have sprung up recently. Everyone there is down-to-earth and the prices for produce, honey, flowers, and eggs are a steal. I remember the market used to sell fish, meats, and live poultry, but those have been replaced by food trucks and other vendors selling delicious cooked meals.

Buying food at farmer’s markets has many benefits. As I experienced, such markets are excellent opportunities for developing and maintaining social ties with one’s community in an outdoor, open-air environment. For the consumer, markets grant access to an excellent variety of local, fresher, seasonal, healthy foods. And to top that, because the food doesn’t travel long distances from the farm to the market and the absence of middlemen, the prices tend to be lower than one would find at a supermarket.

If you have not had the opportunity yet, I employ you, go check out your local farmer’s market. Finding one is a simple google search, but here’s a website that compiled. 120 markets located throughout the bay area. The Ultimate Guide to 120 Bay Area Farmers’ Markets | SF, East Bay, Peninsula, South Bay and North Bay.

Enjoy being outside, meeting new people and bon appetit!

Alemany Certified Farmers' Market, 100 Alemany Blvd. (at Crescent and Putnam); (415) 647-9423. Open at about 6 a.m. Saturdays.

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