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Vegan for the Holidays

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All the world is nuts about

    What's in The Nut Gourmet

The Nutty Gourmet

Vegetarians in Paradise
The Great Produce Hunt

For a complete current list of farmers' markets click on Certified Farmers Markets in Los Angeles County.


The City of Long Beach is the site of five farmers' markets offering fresh produce to its citizens in four different areas of the community five days of each week. The two birds of paradise, Zel and Reuben visited the Downtown Long Beach Certified Farmers/ Market and share their experience in the following dialog.

Z: We decided to cruise down to Long Beach on that dreary Friday afternoon in December. The weather report said there might be sprinkles beneath that gray sky. The market opens at ten in the morning, but we could not manage to tear away until after lunch.

R: We didn't know what to expect at a December market. Folks back in the East probably envy us for having access to fresh produce in the winter. We might have the threat of rain with our fruits and vegetables, but they shovel snow and hope their supermarkets have fruits and vegetables imported from warmer climates.

Z: On that Friday there was a good representation of farmers lining both sides of the Long Beach Promenade between Broadway and Third. Their offerings were sufficient to bring contentment to any vegetarian.

Persimmon R: I was contented with the selection of both Hachiya and Fuyu persimmons. This has been a great year for persimmons. What a delightful way to end a meal by enjoying one of nature's most delicious fruits!

Z: We had a choice of vendors offering persimmons: Walker Farms from Fresno, M.B. Farm from Fresno, Garcia Family Farm from Kingsburg, and Jim Van Foeken from Ivanhoe up in Tulare County.

R: Van Foeken was offering a variety of citrus along with the persimmons. There were Valencia oranges, lemons, Satsuma tangerines, and giant pomelos.

Z: Some of our readers may not be familiar with pomelos. They look like grapefruit on growth hormones. These were up to 6 inches in diameter and ranged from 3 1/2 to 5 lbs. each. Jim explained that there might be up to 100 lbs. of fruit on the tree. The branches can stand a heavy load, but occasionally they break. He has 100 pomelo trees on his 32-acre ranch.

Pomelo R: When you finally get through the thick skin there's about as much as you would find on the inside of a regular grapefruit. I didn't realize the pomelo originated in China and has been grown in Asia for 4000 years. They can have a diameter of as much as 13 inches and weigh up to 13 lbs. That information might show up in one of our Highest Perch articles down the line.

Z: Actually the pomelos make up a very small portion of his 3000 fruit trees. We found it fascinating to talk to him and learn how farmers' markets have benefited the farmers. Until the farmers markets came into existence the farmers were at the mercy of the packers and the market chains that would set prices.

R: Now the farmers can sell directly to the public at prices comparable to or less than those of the markets. Jim, who offers his fruit in about 11 venues, has been coming to the farmers' markets for the last 14 years. Without this opportunity, he feels he would have been out of business years ago. Because profits are low, he did it all himself for years, but now he has help.

Z: When I asked him when he takes a vacation, he answered, " I take a few days off every few years." I'm sure that's the case for many of the farmers who wake up at ungodly hours and drive hundreds of miles to the markets. Talk about long days.

R: Karl Nejeley from Fallbrook doesn't drive as far as Jim and doesn't have as many acres, but he was selling his oranges, limes, avocados, and sapote. Sapote is a tropical fruit that doesn't hold up too well in the supermarkets. It's quite delicious. When we asked how often the tree blooms, Karl shook his head. It's totally unpredictable; he never knows when it's going to bear fruit.

Z: The sapote is sometimes confused with sapodilla, a tropical evergreen tree with a brown, rough-skinned fruit with a sweet yellowish pulp. The sapote we encounter in Southern California is the greenish yellow fruit whose real name is casimiroa or white sapote. The round fruit is about 3 to 4 inches in diameter and has a custardy banana peach flavor with the consistency of a papaya.

Grapes R: That may be more than our readers want to know about sapote or sapodilla. Let's talk about apples and grapes instead. Ha Farm and Tenerelli, both represented at many markets, displayed their no-wax Fuji apples. Grapes were also still available. Walker Farms and M.B. Farms, both from Fresno, had a selection of grapes including Crimson, Black Fantasy, Thompson, and Red Globe.

Z: Don't forget those double twin kiwis from Walker Farms. They looked deformed but taste great. I also wanted to mention the great selection of vegetables available at this market. Smith Farms from Irvine and Top Veg from Carson both were present with their wide assortment of vegetables. While she was weighing up vine-ripened tomatoes ($1 a lb.), Paula Smith was telling us about her 35-acre family farm.

R: Actually they have three farms, two organic and one conventional. They sell their produce in 25 markets around the Southland.

Z: No market report would be complete without mentioning flowers. West Flowers of Oxnard had attractive bouquets of pink and purple mums along with daisies, statice, and Asiatic lilies.

R: Market manager Dale C. Whitney is a busy fellow managing all four of the markets. This market has 45 spaces, but on that Friday only 35 were being utilized. The downtown market has been in existence for 20 years, ten at this location.

Z: It was one of the first groups of markets that opened that year. In fact, it was the fourth. Dave has been manager the last 11 years. The South Coast Ecumenical Council and the First Congregational Church of Long Beach, an alliance of 8 churches, established the markets. Any profits from the markets go to charities providing shoes for children and blankets for the homeless. Each of the markets has a charity that picks up food that is left, and distributes the food to the needy.

R: Dave does the Market Newsletter himself. He handed us the November-December 2000 issue that included the complete holiday schedule, news of various markets, and Santa Claus appearances. All four markets are featured on their web site that averages 800 visitors a month.

Z: We should mention that we discovered their great web site has a link to Vegetarians in Paradise because of our farmers' market reports. We now have a link to them on our site.

Harbor Area Farmers' Markets

Downtown Long Beach Certified Farmers' Market
Long Beach Promenade North
Between 3rd Street and Broadway, one block east of Pine Avenue
Fridays 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Alamitos Bay Marina Certified Farmers' Market
Parking Lot of Alamitos Bay Marina
South of 2nd St. west of Pacific Coast Highway
Sundays 9:00 to 1:00 p.m.

Signal Hill Certified Farmers' Market
Walnut Avenue and 27th St.
Thursdays 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Nov. - March
Thursdays 2:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. April - Oct.

Cerritos Certified Farmers' Market
Corner of Park Plaza Dr. and Towne Center Dr.
South end of Towne Center Shopping Center
Northwest of 183rd St./ Shoemaker Ave.
Saturdays 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon

Huntington Park Certified Farmers' Market
Salt Lake Park at corner of Bissell St. just north of East Florence Ave.
Wednesdays 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Phone: 1-866-GOOD-VEG (1-866-466-3834)
Email: hafms@juno.com
Web site: http://www.harborareafarmersmarkets.org

Reviewed January 2001

Click here for past Farmers' Market Reviews

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