From Lindsey in San Jose, California: The weekly farmer's market in downtown San Jose is put on by the Pacific Coast Farmer's Market Association - which means all the produce really was grown in California. Each stall has its certification hanging in a plastic bag, and almost all have proud signage that tells you exactly where the produce was grown. Read on and see more of Lindsey's gorgeous photos... There’s usually at least two certified organic farms represented, and one farm that is "all natural" but not certified. Prices, consistently, are fantastic. Fruit rarely goes for more than $1.50 a pound (except berries), and vegetables range from $0.50-3.99 a pound, usually averaging $1.50, with only the most intensive items, like organic sugar snap peas, going for $7.99.
This being California, we're still getting a smattering of strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries. Peaches hit a high point a few weeks ago, but are still putting in a fair showing. Plums, figs, and grapes are the real scene stealers this week, along with the first wave of warty, bumpy, exotic squashes. Heirloom tomatoes look like they might wrap up soon, but at the moment they’re still quite gorgeous.
This is my second year at this market and I do have my favorites. Xiang Dao Farm out of Fresno is my source for interesting Asian vegetables, but they do a great job of keeping my regular favorites in stock too. I’ve been buying huge bunches of basil there every Friday for $1 a bunch. With the garlic and lemons they sell at the other end of the stall, they’ve single handedly kept me in pesto all summer.
Their selection of greens is unsurpassed at San Pedro, although the unmarked stall next to them (a collective of farms out of San Juan Baptista) is putting up a good fight with an increasingly attractive selection of colorful chards and kales.
Fruit is the market's specialty, perhaps just flat out California's specialty. My favorite fruit stand is one of the least fancy, though. Diaz Farms rarely has more than five or six items on their table – this time they had plums, peaches, and three types of grapes – but they are by far my favorite for sweetness and ripeness in whatever it is they're selling.
Also, everything on the table is the same price - $1.00 to $1.50 a pound, depending on the week. I’ve never had a bad fruit from this market, but the Diaz stuff just seems to taste better. Last week the black grapes I had there made my eyes cross they were so good.
Calderon Organic Farm put on a really nice show today. It too had a flat price of $1.00 a pound for everything on the table, from artichokes to half a bazillion types of peppers. At each respective end of the street, the focus is less on produce and more on finished goods. Towards the St. John end of things, local restaurants have set up stalls and sell everything from lamb curry to French crepes to bento box lunches. There’s a man there every Friday for the last two years who sells fabulous tamales for $2, and next to him is another guy who sells samosas, also $2. Across from them is the stall for The Clay Oven, where a man makes naan on the street in a portable stainless steel tandoor oven. Mixed in with the lunch stalls are some that sell baked goods and cured meats to take home.
On the Santa Clara end of San Pedro, there's the usual jewelry and woven basket vendors, but also some really nice selections of California olive oil products. I've seen handmade herbal soaps and body care sourced from Santa Cruz that, if you weren't tempted to keep all to yourself, would make great gifts. Email us! We'll send you a small gift as a thank you.