marketday1.jpgSaturday morning, market day, is a jumble of visiting with friends, purchasing food for the week, jostling with tourists, and talking to farmers. There are some weekends when the amount of energy needed for the market — including lugging my goods home on the bus — takes its toll. While on wintry days the market almost feels like a whisper, on summer days the market shouts at the top of its lungs for hours on end. Summer food is amplified, summer crowds are amplified, and even the number of farm booths is amplified.

Most of the local, hard-core market goers that I know won’t be seen at the market after 9am on a summer Saturday morning. I tend to gamble with that rule some weeks. Sometimes it’s more important to sleep in than to be the first at the market, and sometimes I have market obligations that require me to be there later. And then, all you can do is just go with the flow and be as patient as possible.

This weekend, I was at the market late. I had interviewed Ed George of the Peach Farm for CUESA’s Meet the Producer series at 10.30, and wasn’t at the market early enough to shop before the interview. That meant that I was still shopping close to noon. Interviewing Ed was fun — he’s a really dedicated farmer who provides produce to some of the city’s best restaurants. His major crop is heirloom tomatoes, and they were beautiful on Sunday. I picked up some very small eggplants from him that I still haven’t decided how to prepare.

Even at the height of the market, farmers are usually in a good mood and talkative. I purchased fresh garbanzo beans, off the stalk, from one of the Catalan daughters at Catalan Farm. I asked her if she was the one who had to de-stalk them. It’s a tedious process without much yield to show for your trouble. “No, and it’s a good thing,” she said. “I would just throw them at my brother. We get in fights with them.”

If you blink, you’ll miss Short Night Farm. They are a small booth in the front of the market, and they usually only have a small amount of produce on their table. Short Night has never disappointed me and I look forward to their produce every week, so I stopped to see what they had: beautiful melons that I didn’t want to carry around the market. Deciding to take the gamble that there would be some left at the end of my trip, I passed them up. “But I’ll take these,” I told the vendor, grabbing some lemons. She laughed that the lemons were important enough to carry but the melon wasn’t. It was no joke to me — finding locally grown citrus in July is difficult, and they were the only vendor at the market selling lemons that day.

garlicThe Hunter Orchards farmers were in the back of the market, selling lavender and dried garlic. They are a vendor that we only see for about a month a year, when they bring their beautiful Rocambole garlic to the market. The garlic that I bought on Saturday will last until Valentine’s Day, they said. I bid them good-bye until next year, and strategized a cool,dark place for my two bags of newly purchased dried garlic.

By the time I ran into a couple of bloggers, I had visions of going home for a post-market meal. “The tostadas at Primavera are really good today,” Tea mentioned referring to the amazing Mexican food stand at the back of the market. “I’m going to skip it”, I said. “I’m plotting a BLT.” BLT’s always make me think of Cookie and Cranky, my blogger friends in Marin, and I had them in mind as I ran to pick up bacon, perfect tomatoes, tiny little heads of romaine lettuce, and my BLT bun of choice.

Arriving back home, I unpacked and made my meal within 20 minutes, then sat and watched mindless television as I decompressed from my market day.

Each week when I get home, I scribble down my market list before I put it away. In addition to the produce mentioned above, I also purchased:

Orach, nopales, and cilantro from Heirloom Organics
Pasilla peppers from Catalan Farms Corn from G & S Corn
Nectarines from Blossom Bluff Orchards
Avocados from Brokaw Nursery
Butter from Spring Hill Cheese

Market Day at Ferry Plaza 29 July,2008Jennifer Maiser

  • I also love Ella Bella Farms. They are amazing people with equally amazing produce. Right now, they have a variety of summer squash, berries, kale and basil.
    And Short Night is great! Thanks for posting about them. They are overlooked and what they do have is incredible. Dried figs, melon, lemon cucumbers, and okra (which is yummy even just simply roasted)

  • MangerLaVille: You’re right, Ella Bella is a fantastic farm, with such a great story. I wrote about it a couple years ago on BAB:


Jennifer Maiser

“My passion for food began young.”

I am the editor of the influential website which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers.

I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003.

I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure.

I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers’ Market, which was released in February 2010.

I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what’s in season and chatting with farmers.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor