Farmers’ Market Finds

Today I finally made it to my most favorite farmers’ market in the area, the Community Food Bank sponsored Santa Cruz River Market, at Mercado San Augustin, located at 100 S. Avenida del Convento, which is just west of downtown, off of Congress St.  It’s held on Thursdays, from 4 pm – 7 pm in the summer, and 3 pm – 6 pm in the fall and winter.  This is my favorite for a variety of reasons, but mostly because you can find things there that you simply don’t find at other markets and stores, at amazingly low prices, and the produce is required to actually be local. 
 I learned about this market from a vendor I was chatting with at another market.  She pointed out to me which vendors at that particular market were actually local, and I was shocked to find out that only about a third of them were!  At the Santa Cruz River Market, the Community Food Bank takes consignment from small batch farmers and home gardeners.  For example, someone who has an abundant pomegranate tree might decide to take their extra fruit and consign it to the food bank, for sale at one of their markets.  Everything, absolutely everything, is local!!  

I do most of my shopping at the food bank’s table, which is the consignment booth, but always check out what the San Xavier Co-op Farm is offering, as their prices are absolutely unbeatable.  For example, I saw a customer pick out a beautiful cantaloupe for around 75 cents!  I learned about many vegetables that I had never even heard over before going to this market, such as purslane.  Everything is just so fresh and flavorful, that you will become spoiled … grocery store produce will no longer be acceptable to your palate. 

Here are some of my finds from today:
Fresh Basil



This good-sized bag of basil…. oh, the bursting with flavor smell… was only $3, and I’m sure it was picked this morning.  Think about how much you pay for a teeny-tiny container of basil at the grocery store, and it’s not even fresh!
Arugula  
This was also $3.  So fresh and crisp!  At this time of year, arugula can be quite peppery tasting, which this most definitely is.  If your bag of arugula from the grocery store is not super-peppery during the summer… well, then it is definitely not fresh!

Teas… on sale!
Desert Tortoise Botanicals teas are on sale right now, 3 for $15.  They are normally $6 per bag for a 1-ounce bag.  I can go on and on about how amazing the teas, salves and tinctures from Desert Tortoise Botanicals are…the healing salve is something you will want both in your medicine cabinet and in your purse (or briefcase?) as it heals **everything**…. from cuts and scrapes to muscle strains!  I am sipping the Sonoran Spring Tea right now, which includes nettle and marigold, among many other herbs and plants, as it is extremely helpful for seasonal allergies.

Tea before brewing… look at the whole flowers!

3 Varieties of Cucumbers

These cucumbers were $1.00 per pound, I think… and were pretty light anyway.  The round cucumber on the right is a lemon cucumber.  I usually peel commercially grown cukes, as the skin is thick and bitter, but not these!  You can eat the whole thing, even the peel.  

I also bought a bag of mini heirloom tomatoes, for $2, with so many different varieties.  I can eat them like popcorn… they are so sweet and delicious.  

Okra  

This bag of green and red okra was $3.  I think that will be in my dinner tonight!



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