The shift from summer to autumn signals the end of the growing season and the beginning of harvest. All across the northern hemisphere producers are bringing in the crops they have tended to for the last several months. It is the time of bounty and a cause to celebrate.
No where is the bounty of the season more cheerfully apparent than at your local farmer’s market. No matter what part of the country you live in the items to be had now are the most varied, most ripe and most delicious of the entire year. (Those who live in more dramatic climates might argue that spring is the most delicious time as it is the end of root vegetables and shipped-in fruit.)
At the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market (SMFM) the produce available right now is arguably some of the best anywhere in the US. Given the market’s proximity to some of the best growing territory in the world the goods that come to market in the fall are amazing.
The SMFM started over 20 years ago and is the most visited farmer’s market in LA with over 9,000 visitors a week. The market runs on Wednesday and Saturday. Wednesday it is visited by many of the city’s better chefs and farm-to-table restauranteurs who come to the market to shop for the weekend while the Saturday market is all organic.
Among the many vendors at the SMFM is Garcia Organic Farm. They are located in Fallbrook, CA, in San Diego County. The Garcia family has been farming for 17 years and produces some of the finest speciality produce in the US. The Garcia Organic Farm grows over 12 types of oranges, 15 types of avocados, 5 types of grapefruit and 5 different kinds of guava. They also produce the rare Persian lime which is acidless and can be eaten just like a orange.
The venerable man of the market is Sid Weiser of Weiser Family Farms. The former high school science teacher got into farming 40 years ago after the boat he bought to start a fishing business sank. Safely on land Mr. Weiser has built an operation with land in Tehachapi and Lucerne, California. Crops are mainly potatoes and melons.
The SMFM isn’t just limited to produce. One can find some of the best and freshest meats, cheeses and gourmet products available. Shellfish can be purchased from the Carlsbad Aqua Farm. They too have been in operation for 17 years and their oyster, clam, abalone and mussel beds are off the coast of San Diego. Along with the sustainably raised shellfish they produce red ogo.
Red ogo, also known as limu, is a superfood. Superfoods are unprocessed food items that provide more nutrients per calorie than other foods, some are high in antioxidants and phytoflavinoids. Oftentimes they act as an anti-inflammatories and may be high in Omega-3s. Other superfoods are algae, wild salmon, açai berry, walnuts, sprouts, yogurt, blueberries, to name but a few of the purported 150 superfoods out there. (Some are open for debate, like peanut butter.) Red ogo is high in potassium and iron. It has a cucumber-like flavor and can be enjoyed either raw in a salad or sauteed.
The Santa Monica Farmer’s Market operates Wednesday and Saturday, year-round. It runs from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays.
Location: 3rd Street at Arizona Avenue, Santa Monica, CA
Santa Monica City web site
For a complete list of farmers markets in Los Angeles visit the Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles web site.