My girlfriend and I hopped on our bikes, caught the light-rail, and slid from Tempe to Phoenix to get some fresh produce at the mid-week Phoenix Metro Farmers Market
. The first thing that we noticed was the size. It seemed pretty small for a city that spares no square footage, but when we got under the awning and spoke with the farmers, bakers, and artisans about their products, we realized it was a pretty big deal.
Past the table with fresh breads, I met a couple of young ladies who worked for Maya's Farm
which is an organic, hand-cut farm that specializes in fruits, vegetables, flowers, and eggs that is located right up against South Mountain in the southern part of Phoenix. Despite their big smiles and cute straw hats, the girls embarrassingly shied away from having their picture taken, but they did let me snap some of the veggies.
There, they introduced me to an aspect of organic farming that everyone should be a part of. CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, is an environmentally friendly, fair-trade way of eating healthy, being environmentally friendly, and supporting local farms and businesses. The gist of CSA is that you pay $260 to $360 for a membership that lasts for a 12 week growing season (around $25 a week). Each week, the CSA member can go to the farmers market and pick up a box of fresh fruits, vegetables, flowers, and eggs. My modest farmer-friends showed me what I would have been able to leave with if I were a member and it was definitely more fresh and less expensive than what it would be at a store. I asked her if I could substitute the flowers and eggs for more vegetables or vice versa and she said yes. Also, the selection changes, so CSA members aren't eating the same food for three months straight. For more details on it, and to find the closest CSA, go here
I bought a big bag of monster-size okra and went to another table with heirloom tomatoes that caught my eye. This table was owned by a local farmer named Carl who specializes in (and even wins awards with)
his tomatoes. I, being a big fan of the tomato as well, talked with him about the perils and hardships of maintaining tomato gardens, and how the tomato is so majestic that cooking it is an insult and blending it for a Bloody-Mary is blasphemous. Our eye-rolling company grew pretty annoyed so Carl and I said our goodbyes and I went on home to eat.
These cost me six dollars. I have paid six per heirloom tomato before and even Trader Joes is more expensive.
Between these and my okras, my head nearly exploded from the tidal wave of flavor without exploding my wallet also. All in all, our trip to the market was a pretty good and every farmer told us that the market on the weekend was bigger and better so I marked my calendar. I am going to go back this weekend to stock up on some more tomatos and when the new CSA season starts in August, I will become a proud member-- you should too!