Monday, August 3, 2009

Farmers Markets in Marin County " Direct to Your Table from Local Fields

By David DuPont

For many people in Marin, a trip to the local farmers market is a weekly must on their schedule. With ample opportunities to purchase and eat fresh and often organic produce, grown by local farmers, why not make time to visit your local farmers market?

The largest farmers market in Marin County and the third largest farmers market in California operates year-round at the Civic Center in San Rafael every Sunday between 8 am and 1 pm. Attracting nearly 200 farmers, specialty food purveyors and artisans to sell their products to locals. Location: 10 Avenue of the Flags, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael.

Local premier chefs shop regularly for their weekend produce at another farmers market held at the Civic Center in San Rafael each Thursday from 8 am to 1 pm. This one also operates throughout the year, and features 100 local farmers, specialty food purveyors and artisans. Location: 10 Avenue of the Flags, Marin Civic Center, San Rafael.

In the summertime, the Novato Farmers Market is held on Tuesday evenings in the recently renovated area called Old Town, where locals shop for the freshest fruit and vegetables, and treat their children to pony rides, face painting and balloon sculptures. Where: Grant Ave between Machin & Reichert Streets, Novato.

Also a summertime phenomenon, the Fairfax Farmers Market is staged in a beautiful setting every Wednesday from 4 pm to 8 pm. Fairfax has banned single use plastic bags, so dont forget to take your tote bags! Location: Bolinas Rd & Elsie Lane, Fairfax.

The mission of the Marin Farmers Markets is to promote a viable food system, to educate the public about the benefits of buying fresh and locally grown food, and to bring farmers and communities together.

Marin County Farmers Markets are Likely to Offer the Following Fruits and Vegetables:

Apples, Apricots, Artichokes, Asparagus, Avocados, Bananas, Beans, Beets, Blackberries, Blueberries, Broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, Cabbage, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Chard, Cherries, Chicory, Coconuts, Collard Greens, Corn, Crabapples, Cranberries, Cucumbers, Dates, Eggplants, Elderberries, Figs, Gooseberries, Gourds, Grapefruit, Grapes, Jerusalem Artichokes, Kale, Kiwi Fruit, Kohlrabi, Kumquats, Leeks, Lemons, Lettuce, Limes, Lychee Nuts, Mandarin Oranges, Mangoes, Melons, Mushrooms, Nectarines, Okra, Olives, Onions, Oranges, Papayas, Parsnips, Passion Fruit, Peaches, Pears, Peas, Peppers, Pineapples, Plums, Pomegranate, Potatoes, Pumpkins, Radicchio, Radishes, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Rutabaga, Shallots, Spinach, Squash, Strawberries, Sweet potatoes, Tangerines, Tomatoes, Turnips, Watercress, Watermelon, Yams.

Not found on this list are the many types of nuts or the many kinds of lettuce, peppers, onions or olives, most of which are sold direct from local farmers at the Farmers Markets.

A couple of interesting fruits that are available at the farmers markets enjoy particular favor among the foodie community. Those fruits in greatest favor nowadays include Heirloom Tomatoes and Pomegranate. Heirloom Tomatoes are treasured each summer for their multiple colors, shapes and sizes and their unique and delicate flavors. Pomegranate is cultivated in California mainly for its juice and is rich in Vitamins C and B5, as well as antioxidants.

Seasonal vegetables and fruit that are especially popular and most commonly eaten in California include Artichokes and Avocados. Artichokes are a spiny vegetable grown largely in Californias Central Valley area. Avocados are a pear- shaped fruit, also known as Alligator Pears, that are mainly cultivated in countries with tropical climates. Many avocados, mainly the Hass type, also grow in Southern California.

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