Sunday, September 06, 2009
When is a Farmers' Market not a Farmers' Market?
Sorbet was being served up at a new booth at the Fillmore Farmers' Market in San Francisco on Saturday.
That continues an unsettling trend at the market. It's turning more into a prepared foods market, diluting the farmers' market aspect and atmosphere.
In the last two months, the market has added a booth selling tamales, one peddling shrimp and grits and the aforementioned sorbet slinger. They and seven other booths listed on the official Fillmore Farmers' Market Website offer "specialty foods".
The same Website lists 12 farms and two dairy outlets.
Everyone has a right to make a living, and certainly we need more vendors at the market. But this is becoming more of a prepared foods market; we might as well go to the deli counters at Safeway, Mollie Stone's or Whole Foods.
Not to mention that the expansion of booths offering prepared foods at the market flies in the face of the openly stated "Buy Fresh Buy Local" philosophy of the sponsoring Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association.
The market's organizers should focus on closing gaps that now exist among the farms and farmers. Where is a mushroom vendor? Good selections of fresh herbs, which are grown in abundance just down the road around Watsonville, are rarely in evidence at the Fillmore market. How about bringing in more vendors offering certified organic produce?
And lettuce; where is it? One hundred miles to the south, the Salinas Valley, is where 70 percent of the country's lettuce is grown and harvested from April to October, but little of it shows up consistently at the Fillmore Farmers' Market.
One vendor, Calderon Farms, offered lettuce on Saturday. Hear, hear! But also: More, more!
We all should be thrilled to have a year-round farmers' market in the neighborhood. At the same time, let's urge the organizers to put the farm back farmers' market, keeping it ahead of sorbet and tamales and kettle corn.