Monday, June 29, 2009

Market love

I love markets. When we were small, every so often, my parents would bring us to the Orange County swapmeet. We'd load into our radio flyer wagon and go from stall to stall, surveying the goods, picking up socks in bulk and new tennis shoes, new plants for my mum, and, if we were lucky, something from the toy stall or later in my girlhood, a mood ring or a ying yang necklace from the jewelry tent.

Then there are craft markets. The froo-froo Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach, the lower-key summertime street vendors in downtown Santa Cruz, the ridiculously hip Sunday Market in Chiang Mai, tourist-heavy Rastro in Madrid, the traditional Weinachtsmarkt in Regnesburg, Germany, and seasonal fairs on the Stanford campus, just in time for Mother's Day.

And then, my favorite of all, the farmers' market. Where produce is king and possibilities are endless. Squash blossoms? Apriums? Six strawberry varieties. Torpedo onions, garlic scapes, eggs of all colors. It's a feast for the eyes and in all other senses of the word. Whenever I travel, I want to see the market; hog heads at Barcelona's La Boqueria, durian at the wet markets in Singapore, cow stomach and coconuts at the outdoor stalls in Kampong Cham and Phnom Penh, sausage and bread and cheese in Tuscany, flying fish at Seattle's Pike Place. Then there's back home in Fullerton and in my adopted home, the San Francisco Bay: in Southern California and at Alemany and the Ferry Plaza and California Ave. in Palo Alto there are fresh berries, pumelos, tomatoes, avocados, and all the other delicious bounty of California's Central Coast. There's fruit and veggies to see and smell and touch (not too much!) and often taste when the stall owners are good at marketing.

So farmers' markets are sensual, and then they're also full of community; they're where you go to shop and talk. Studies have shown that many many more conversations take place at the farmers' market than do at supermarkets. Unsurprising. When you're surrounded by sun and smiling farmers and mountains of fresh produce, it's hard not to open your mouth and talk (or sing!)

I've always wanted to work at a market and now, with Synergy, I have. It's fun. The San Juan Island market is full of folks that I've just started getting to know and Saturdays at the market are a mix of taking orders and answering questions about our produce (yes, that lettuce is perfect for wraps!) and greeting friends and chatting about the season and our sales and a hundred different things going on in the community.

If you love farmers' markets too, consider voting here for your favorite!


  1. Nice blog from my favorite blogger. You grandmother still has that Radio Flyer, by the way. She pulls it around doing her gardening.

  2. Yay! The wagon got a new (purpler) life when dad sanded off the rust and painted it. Go dad! He's so on the ball with the DIY/reusing stuff trend!