I live in San Diego, which is lucky enough to have fresh produce year round. I’ve been thinking about eating locally and in season, so decided to try out shopping at a farmers market last weekend. The only one open when I’m not at work is about ten miles away. So then I had a carbon footprint dilemma – should I use all that gas to drive to buy locally grown produce, or just shop at the grocery store half a mile from my house? It was too hard for me to figure out, so I decided to just go for it.
It does bring up an interesting question, though. Why are most of the farmers markets in the San Diego region scheduled during working hours on weekdays? Are the main shoppers retirees? That’s certainly not true of the City Heights Farmers Market that I went to.
After driving ten miles and determinedly not thinking about carbon footprints, I parked in a grocery store parking lot, which was mostly empty, and walked over to the farmers market, which was full of people. City Heights is a low income urban neighborhood with a big immigrant population. The Farmers Market there was the first ever to take WIC vouchers, allowing people on public assistance to shop there.
I had a lot of fun listening to the huge variety of languages spoken and checking out the huge variety of gorgeous produce. I was tempted by the fish van, which had an enthusiastic crowd of Asian American shoppers, but retreated when I realized they were buying sea urchins. That scared me off – all those spikes! We’ll have to schedule that for the cooking class, when I’m feeling brave.
I ended up buying a big bag of amazingly juicy oranges, fresh peas, cherry tomatoes sweet enough to munch straight, and beautifully fresh bok choi and swiss chard – all for about $8. A bargain, and better produce than I’ve ever seen at a grocery store. I’ll definitely be back, despite the drive.