Changing for the better, one bite and (deep) breath at a time.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Farmers Markets

My idea of a fantastic Saturday morning is visiting the local farmers market and picking out fresh produce, grass-fed beef, and locally produced olive oil for the week. There are so many reasons to shop at farmers markets:

1. Health: Many farmers are certified organic growers and/or do not use synthetic pesticides or other chemicals to grow their food. Organic certification is an expensive and lengthy process for a small grower, so oftentimes they cannot afford to become certified. However, there's a good chance the farmer will be selling his fruits and vegetables himself, so you can ask him how he cares for his crops. Same thing goes for beef, chicken, and pork stands at these markets. I had a lengthy discussion yesterday with a cattle rancher about how he tends for his 100% grass-fed cattle...and I bought ground beef for $3 less per pound than I can get at Whole Foods!

2. Environment: Produce found at farmers markets comes from a local farm, not across the country (or world!) to get to your plate. That means your food doesn't "cost" as much to the environment to be produced. Furthermore, because these farmers rotate crops to avoid depleting the soil of vital nutrients, they retain the integrity of the land. This also means that more nutrients are in the food they grow.

3. Cost: Because you buy fruits and vegetables directly from the grower, you don't pay the overhead required at large grocery chains. You might notice that produce is cheaper at markets than at the grocery store. Farmers really want you to learn how to cook with their produce, enjoy what you have purchased, and subsequently come back next week, so they'll oftentimes cut you a deal at the point of purchase.

4. Taste/Freshness: Locally-grown fruits and vegetables are picked only days (or sometimes hours) before you buy them. This means that they haven't been sitting on a truck or in a warehouse for weeks, slowly losing nutrients, taste, and freshness. Furthermore, because they are sold so quickly, farmers can pick these fruits and veggies when they're ripe (instead of weeks before they ripen), so you get the maximum amount of nutrients and taste from these foods. You simply cannot compare organic corn, berries, or tomatoes from a farmers market to what you can buy at even the fanciest grocer.

5. Economy: It is especially important now to support our local economy. When you buy fruits and vegetables (and other artisan products) at a farmers market, you are helping local business grow and thrive, and you're not sending your money to another state or another continent.

As if these reasons weren't enough, the North Scottsdale Farmers Market just popped up in North Scottsdale on Shea and 94th Street (in the parking lot of Ling and Louie's). It has only been opened for 3 weeks so is a bit small, but it's rapidly growing and will be a big success, in my opinion, given its location. Even better, all produce, flowers, meats, and cheese are sold indoors in an unfinished commercial space for the summer to ensure the quality of these products.

North Scottsdale Farmers Market
Every Saturday
7 am - 11 am
94th Street and Shea

Check it out, especially if you live close by.

Even better, if you were a fan of the Scottsdale Farmers Market in Old Town, get pumped: instead of closing for the summer, they have moved into the Scottsdale Stadium on Osborn and Drinkwater through August.

For more information on Arizona Farmers Markets, click here.


When many of the farmers markets in Arizona are closed for the summer because of the suffocating heat, the rest of the country's markets are thriving. We went to La Jolla for the 4th of July and had the pleasure of shopping for our holiday meals at the La Jolla Open Aire Market, which is open on Sunday mornings. It was purely a feast for the eyes (and tummy!).

This market, which is located on the grounds of an elementary school, is absolutely stunning, and there is so much to choose from. There are at least 20 produce vendors, plus a plethora of dessert, hummus, olive oil, clothing, coffee, and arts and crafts vendors. They even have a food court with dozens of prepared food vendors. Dogs are not allowed inside so customers tie them to the fence and they lounge under the trees (and no doubt receive a few scraps from passer-bys).

As you can imagine by the pictures - and the quantity of them - I was in absolute heaven.

View from outside the fence:

Just gorgeous:

One of my favorite all-time vegetables:

This is the farmer's way of saying that they don't use pesticides on this corn (which is hard to find!):

Variety of different greens and beets:

Black radish - I've never heard of one!

Various sprouts and micro greens:


Check out this zucchini:

Gorgeous, huge bouquets of mixed flowers:

Dainty daisies:

Round squash:

Three baskets for $, perfectly ripened, and absolutely delicious:

Conventional peaches are very likely to sprayed, so buying them in season at a farmers market from a grower who doesn't use pesticides is a great they taste amazing!

I'm assuming you can eat the flowering part but don't quite know how to use them...

Nothing says "summer" more than fresh green beans:

Absolutely stunning heirloom tomatoes:

This local baker makes red velvet cake from scratch using all real ingredients.

We sampled some of the red velvet and took a few pieces home for 4th of July dessert:

Look how delicious these look:

Some vendors sold potted herbs and plants so you could grow some at home:

Some people managed to sneak in their dog:

We grabbed lattes and topped them with raw sugar and cinnamon...a nice treat on a cool, cloudy morning:

This local shop sells salsas, tahini, hummus, and various other salads. We picked up 3 different types of hummus and fresh pita bread:

These pups had to wait for their owners to finish shopping. I don't think they minded lounging in the grass, enjoying the cool air:

We left Lucy in the Jeep with the top down. She seemed pretty happy to see us:

Later that day, we enjoyed organic grass-fed beef burgers on bread that was baked that morning with my peanut cole slaw, grilled squash, and non-sprayed corn (with organic butter!). The dinner was absolutely amazing, and I am confident it is because the ingredients were so fresh and well-prepared. The company wasn't so bad either :)



  1. Hi Megan--
    I found your site through I was one of her interns! In regards to the squash blossoms--you can do a number of things with them! Saute them, stuff them with a cheese mixture, throw them in a salad, deep fry them (though I know as RDs we don't like to condone this method--regardless, it is delicious!). Hope this will give you some ideas!
    PS--I'm moving to Tempe in a few weeks--any restaurant suggestions for the Phoenix area, or know anyone who wants to hire an RD?

  2. This is a great post, thanks for sharing. There is nothing better then cheap fresh fruits and vegetables and frankly nothing is more nutritious. I am definitely going to need to visit the Farmers Market soon. The dish you made looks delicious as well! I know all the followers at will find this post useful also.