My cousin told me he calls this "my church". Every Saturday morning we go to the Farmer's Market at the Ferry Building in San Francisco. It takes something quite extraordinary for us not to make it. For example: our daughter was born on a Friday morning... we didn't make it to the market the next day, but we did make it a week later when Ella was only 8 days old.
At first we started to go to the market on Saturday mornings as a social event. My mom almost always goes with us and sometimes my dad meets us. We also go with our family friends The Drakes. When my husband and I still lived in Boston and we came to SF to visit we would make sure we were in SF for at least on Saturday so we could go to the market. Once we moved to SF almost four years ago we started the tradition of going virtually every Saturday.
When we started going we would get some fruits and veggies. Now it is so much more. We now get almost 90% of our fruits and vegetables from the market. The other 10% comes from our corner market or occasionally the supermarket and that is only because we are just starting to get really good at planning our weekly meals. But it didn't start that way. When you make the decision to try to eat organic and local it takes time to get used to that type of lifestyle. One of the biggest aspects is the cost. When we started buying more of our fruits and veggies at the farmer's market as opposed to our little corner store we saw a dramatic increase in our cost of food. That takes a little getting used to. Sometimes my husband and I would say, "I am not going to pay that much for ____ when I can get it for half as much at the corner store." But little by little we started trying different types of fruits and veggies and made it a priority to try to buy almost all our produce at the farmer's market.
The farmer's market also gives us chance to get to know the farmers. I KNOW where my food is coming from now. It is hard to describe why this is important and how it makes me feel... but it really is an incredible feeling. My relationship to my food is different - and I like it! I can talk to the farmer's about their crops and how many more weeks they are going to have a particular fruit or vegetable. This is an invaluable resource when trying to cook seasonally. I also love that you can taste everything. During the summer months my mom and I go on the search for the perfect peach. Unfortunately, this summer I am going to be gone for three weeks during peach season...oh no. We are going to Europe so don't feel too bad for me. But I am a little disappointed I will not have a whole summer to find the perfect peach.
Another way to get local produce is through a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture). A CSA is a way that you can get weekly produce from a local farm. Some farms deliver your box directly to your door and others have a pick-up site in your area. We joined a CSA after our daughter was born since we wanted to continue to eat local and organic fruits and veggies, but didn't know if we were going to be able to make it to the market every week... as babies can be unpredictable. We joined Eatwell Farm. It was great to join the CSA as we were invited to the Eatwell Farm strawberry picking days - what a wonderful event. We got to spend an afternoon at the farm and pick strawberries and learn about where our fruits and veggies were grown. See some photos below of Ella enjoying the strawberry picking day. (Keep in mind this was about a year ago... so Ella is a lot smaller.) We have since canceled as we love to go to the market every week and just couldn't eat all the produce we were buying and getting in our box.
Saturday mornings at the market help our family have a closer connection to our food and to those that are growing it... and that feels really sweet!