That first taste of ripe peach in the summer, cutting into a freshly picked heirloom tomato – my mouth waters just writing about it. Wandering through a farmers’ market is a thrill to the senses. Favorites include delicious strawberries from Rodriguez Farm, divine blueberries from Triple Delight, beautiful greens from Capay Farms, to name a few.
The introduction of a year-round Farmers’ Market at Rancho Shopping Center on Saturdays should be a big boost to Los Altos. Historically, “market day” was a chance for townsfolk to gather not only to purchase their goods for the week, but also to convene with neighbors and develop relationships with people who grew and raised the food they fed their families.
The culture of farmers’ markets is much the same today, as customers stroll, perusing the season’s bounty and interacting with neighbors and vendors alike – a community gathering of which there are far too few in our fast-paced lives.
An additional benefit of farmers’ markets is that all the vendors live within driving distance, so not only is there a reduction in environmental cost due to lower transport expenses, but also the money you spend stays locally and helps support the remaining farms that were once the mainstay of the valley.
Earlier this year I attended a talk presented by the woman who founded the Half Moon Bay Farmers’ Market, where she described the travels of a locally grown artichoke purchased at Safeway on Highway 1. While I cannot remember the precise route, she outlined how the artichokes are trucked from Half Moon Bay to a distribution center in Newark, then to a distribution center in San Jose, only to be trucked back to Half Moon Bay to be sold as “local” artichokes. It’s comical but true. When purchasing from a farmers’ market, rest assured that your food has come from the farm to the stall.
While the benefits of organic produce can be argued, there is no question that consuming fresh, seasonal produce is the healthiest choice. Fruits and vegetables picked at their peak will be the most flavorful and nutritious. Eating seasonally ensures variety that is essential to deriving all the nutrients required to optimize health.
The No. 1 way to improve one’s diet is to reduce or eliminate all processed foods, a feat that requires planning, as there are very few unprocessed foods that can be eaten right out of the refrigerator or pantry. Urban Village, the host of the Rancho Farmers’ Market, suggests that “the market be used as a place to plan your meal. Go to the market and get inspired.” Direct access to the producers enables customers to ask about produce they don’t recognize, taste something new and learn how best to prepare it.
When you visit the Rancho Farmers’ Market 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, make a stop at the Thompson River Ranch stall to acquire delicious, nutritious, humanely raised, grass-fed wagyu beef (American Kobe). Next browse at Trembois or Borba for some veggies to serve alongside. Then make your way to Heirloom, 7th Heaven and Monte Bello for salad fixings, and you’ve got yourself a wonderful meal. Swing by Ruvalcaba on the way out for flowers for the table and you are all set to treat your family to a meal fit for a king. A very healthy king.
Tracey Downing is trainer and director at FIT, 600 Rancho Shopping Center, Los Altos. For more information, call 947-9831 or visit www.focusedtrainers.com.