Market Share

Geoffrey Rodriguez Issue: Section:

"The farmers markets have become a vastly important epicenter for sharing knowledge and inspiring awareness but most significantly the markets have created an incredibly valuable sense of community within our sprawling city."

The Los Angeles Certified and Organic Farmer’s Markets

Ten years ago while living in London, what was meant to be a temporary visit back to my hometown Los Angeles through a variety of unexpected circumstances would ultimately and much to my dismay - become a permanent return. After having resisted this rather traumatizing and unintentional transition for several months my life would eventually fall into place, largely because of a great love for food and cooking.

In the early months of being back in L.A. I stayed with a dear friend who at the time was also a busy single mother. With a small business to run as well as a child to raise it was only natural that I would become the official resident cook. Preparing favorite recipes for my friend’s then nine-year-old son and quite often a house full of neighborhood kids was thoroughly rewarding and gratifying, particularly while feeling so displaced. Eventually, a rediscovering of the thriving local Certified Farmers markets - initially perhaps just a once a month excursion - would all these years later become the main source of food in my current household and what is now most often a twice weekly routine.

Besides the incredibly uplifting social aspect of shopping the markets – it’s inevitable not to bump into a friend or colleague - there’s something that is enormously gratifying about purchasing the freshest possible produce from someone directly connected with the many processes involved with growing, harvesting, baking, etc. This direct connection to food and nature simply doesn’t exist in a grocery store. More so, there is an extremely valuable exchanging of knowledge occurring but also a deep, simplistic love of food shared by everyone at the markets. The farmers, who are the most sincere, warm-hearted and always friendly people and who work the farm stands tirelessly, rain or shine, welcome all questions and are always willing to offer advice or share recipes. There’s also the extra-added benefit of hearing directly from food writers as well as some of the top local chefs that regularly shop the markets buying produce and literally planning menus for some of the cities finest restaurants.

Among the many things that make Los Angeles unique, the Certified Local Farmers markets have exploded into a citywide movement. There are virtually markets held every day throughout Los Angeles as well as in the surrounding counties, selling an enormous variety of produce that stretches far beyond the standard fruits and vegetables. From the most exquisite exotic orchids to artisan-baked goods, organic dairy products, free-range, sustainable organic bison, beef, lamb and poultry, hydroponics lettuces and herbs, the list goes on and on. The farmers markets have become a vastly important epicenter for sharing knowledge and inspiring awareness but most significantly the markets have created an incredibly valuable sense of community within our sprawling city. A growing number of the farms, some emerging within impoverished communities are actively participating in a variety of community outreach programs that provide children, many from inner-city schools and living within these impoverished neighborhoods, with a much needed education about food, basic nutrition and the importance of sustainable farming. Witnessing the fascination of the children that regularly tour the markets is truly inspiring as well as a painful reminder of what is severely lacking within our nation’s school system.

Anyone visiting Los Angeles by all means should plan a trip to one of the city’s Certified markets and experience them first hand. With so many taking place daily, there’s really no excuse not to come out and support what is ultimately an extremely worthy cause. The greater demand that is being created in local communities for sustainably farmed, organic and pesticide-free produce will ideally lead to improving the overall health of each person living in this still great nation - regardless of income or background. The experience of shopping at the markets overall has personally been rewarding in so many ways and one of the best reasons to live in Los Angeles.

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