Food from the Farms, not the Picket Line

September 17, 2011

Eating healthy food, staying on budget, and supporting the community are not mutually exclusive actions. Slow Food USA is evangelizing their $5 Challenge event nation-wide, set to take place today. With the battle-cry of “slow food shouldn’t have to cost more than fast food” slow foodists are gathering to share meals, exchange ideas and prove that healthy does not mean budget-busting.

At this time, coincidentally, our community is on the brink of yet another possible supermarket union strike in Southern California. When we at home do patronize mainstream supermarkets, we are mindful about buying organic wherever we can and checking out with a cashier. The self-check “convenience” puts people out of jobs and reduces the unions’ leverage for member benefits and fair wages. But as slow food supporters, we are watching as the corporate food industry is on the fast track to another strike.

According to Reuters: “Southern California unions and supermarket operators will negotiate through the weekend in a last-ditch bid to end an escalating Southern California supermarket labor dispute that could usher in the region’s first grocery strike since 2003.”

Remembering all too well the strike of 2003, I sigh thinking about how Trader Joe’s stores were descended upon by new patrons – yes, inconsiderate shoppers who happily snacked on samples and tossed their napkins on the floor, lazy supermarket regulars who abandoned shopping carts in the center of disabled parking spaces. It was a nightmare! I prayed that supermarket strikes in future would not hold hardworking supermarket workers in limbo, nor turn the rude and oblivious mainstream shopper into Trader Joe’s traffic alerts!

So why not eat from the farm, not the factory? Farmers’ Markets are an excellent and lower cost alternative. And there are good online resources! The Local Harvest website includes a robust search feature and detailed listings. In the South Bay, for produce, I can avoid future strike picket lines and the invasion of Trader Joe’s if I instead paronize local farmers’ markets:

Torrance Certified Farmers’ Market   (Torrance, CA)

The City of Torrance operates two Certified Farmers’ Market per week. Tuesday and Saturday from 8 a.m to 1 p.m at Charles H. Wilson Park. The market consists of farmers from all over the state of California. You also have the opportunity to sit and have a bite to eat or a good cup of coffee. There are several specialty items for your shopping convenience. The Tuesday market has been open since 1985 and Saturday opened in 1992.

Mar Vista Farmers Market   (Mar Vista/ Los Angeles, CA)

Mar Vista Farmers Market features direct marketed, organic fruits and vegetables, prepared foods and community outreach programs. You will find organic citrus, apples, heirloom tomatoes, lettuce, spinach, corn, Asian veggies, and sprouts, goat cheese, flowers, baby vegetables, plants, freshly baked bread and much more. Join us for brunch with a wonderful selection of crepes, tamales, omelettes, fresh squeezed orange juice, roasted corn, barbeque, hummus and a selection of raw food.

Carson Certified Farmers’ Market   (Carson, CA)

We have wonderful fresh fish, fresh fruits and vegetables along with cooked food, bakery, gourmet foods and handmade crafts. We enjoy a musician every week and are open rain or shine year round! A raffle takes place every week at 12pm where you can win some of the delicious products from the vendors.

Manhattan Beach Certified Farmers Market   (Manhattan Beach, CA)

With a view of the ocean, this quaint neighborhood farmers market offers a wide variety of fresh seasonal and organically-grown fruits, vegetables and flowers, ranging from cherimoyas and seasonal stone fruits, to heirloom tomatoes, honey, specialty herbs, berries and more. The market also features fresh fish, bakery items, hummus, fresh pastas and more.

Hawthorne Del Aire Farmers Market   (Hawthorne , CA)

(b)The Hawthorne Del Aire Farmers Market (/b)is a home spun outdoor market with 25 to 30 Farmers & food vendors. Farmers specializing in Asian Crops to Organic, Eggs & Chicken come from Bakersfield, Fresno, Santa Maria, Inland Empire, San Diego, Orange County & even in our own back yard of Los Angeles County.

El Segundo Certified Farmers’ Market   (El Segundo, CA)

Our Farmers’ Market is open year round, rain or shine, on Thursdays from 3 – 7 pm, on the 400 block of Main Street. We have farmers, food vendors and a few crafters. Every week we have free balloons for the children and a free raffle at 6 pm.

Many savvy chefs use the local farmers’ markets to inspire and shape the menus in their restaurants.  Josiah Citrin of Melisse is one. This L.A. native and accomplished restaurateur frequents the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market, cruising for produce, between sips of coffee in the morning. According to the restaurant’s website: “Citrin looks forward to the next step in his business: developing a Mélisse cookbook and bringing his refined skills and artistry to a broader international dining audience.  “In Pursuit of Excellence” will be published in autumn 2011.”


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