In praise of farmers. The air was crisp and cold on Thursday as I made an overdue trip to the Farmers Market at the San Rafael Civic Center. The temperature was not surprising since we had an unusual freeze/frost warning the night prior. However, it still made one feel like picking up the pace a bit to keep warm, between that and my black fleece hoodie, I kept warm enough. Feeling the cold metal of my Sony Cybershot in my hand was a good reminder to take photos of the harvest bounty spilling over in the booths. The colors and textures and the scent of freshly baked breads were heady. Coming off the Thanksgiving holiday, remnants of appreciation for the abundance we have was still with me.
I first stopped and had a nice chat with the gentleman selling artisan bread at the Upper Crust Bakery booth. I asked him about his day and the history of the baked goods he brought. Upper Crust Bakery only distributes through farmers markets, and he gets up at 4:30 a.m. to bring this freshly baked bread to us. He said he couldn't get up as early as those who bake it! He drives all the way from Davis to get here by 7:30 a.m. to set up. He told me that a couple, Mo and Trudy founded the bakery some years ago, but now are semi-retired. Mo used to be a scientist at UC Davis, and he was careful to use his science background to adjust the recipes for good pH levels and great taste. I must agree after sampling some of the wheat bread I brought home!
Meet the farmer who provides me with many of the fresh organic herbs and leafy greens that I use in my recipes. In fact, most of the green ingredients I used for the Ash e-jow (Barley Soup) I prepared last spring were purchased from him. Without his laborious work and care for the soil and plants, the soup would never have tasted so fresh nor received so many compliments from the chefs I served it. You can't make great food without great ingredients - fresh, picked at optimum, and well handled to the market.
This is what I'd like to see more of - even though I want to be there before that 'sold out' sign goes up! Our farmers work hard, and sometimes are not able to find buyers for all the beautiful produce which they bring to market. This is a shame, yet I can understand since many people have work schedules such that it is very difficult to make purchases outside a grocery store with expanded hours. I feel very lucky to be in an area with a farmers market accessible in a nearby community nearly every day of the week.
This is my favorite apple booth. Chincholo Farms brings several varieties of apples to market each week, and this week I noticed that they have started making apple juice and apple sauce from their Pink Ladies, a very good eating apple.
If you love food, be sure to frequent your nearby farmers market. The only way we'll get more variety and preserve heirloom types of fruits and vegetables is if we make a habit of purchasing these things.
I just have to note here that I came home yesterday to find unusually high traffic coming to my blog. I was very curious... saw some comments from Europe and thought that onions must be very popular (the last blogging event I participated in was international Onion Day in honor of the Berne farmers market festival). Later in the evening, I found that Blogger had listed my blog in its "Blogs of Note". I'm very honored, and hope all my new friends and visitors enjoy what they see.