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Vegan for the Holidays

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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 Glendale Certified Farmers' market was the target for a visit by the two birds of paradise on a warm Thursday morning in June. Let's eavesdrop on Zel and Reuben as they talk about their experience in revitalized downtown Glendale.

Z: As we drove down a busy Brand Boulevard in the heart of downtown Glendale, we could see this market would be physically different from most of the others we have visited. The street was not barricaded or blocked off. The market was set up on the sidewalk on the east side of the street.

R: Fortunately, the city in its revitalization of the downtown area created wide sidewalks on the main street. I would estimate about 12 feet wide. The vendors pitched their canopies and loaded their tables leaving about 5 feet of clearance for the public to walk by. Behind the farmers were their trucks taking advantage of the convenient angled parking spaces.

Z: The market occupies one long block from Broadway to Wilson Avenue. The customers seemed to fill the remaining part of the sidewalk area. The only challenge was dodging the many baby strollers, positive proof that this farmers market brings families out to shop. As we began our tour, we paused to examine the candle art of Sharon Ray. Her specialty is soy wax candles that feature her pressed flowers. She was anxious to talk about her unique candles that burn many hours longer than standard wax candles, emit no toxic fumes, and are created from soy wax made from pressed soybeans. "You can even saute your vegetables with the melted wax," she proudly says.

Bicolor Corn R: Looking around, we noticed she was the only crafter present. This was mainly a farmers' market. I always look for the unusual, and this time I found treasure at Underwood Farms from Moorpark and Somis. This was my first encounter with asperbroc, a hybrid of asparagus and broccoli. You have to imagine broccoli in the shape of asparagus stalks.

Z: The unusual carrots and radishes at the end of their table surprised me. Along with their traditional orange carrots, they offered creamy white ones as well as cute little Globe carrots that were small, squat globes about 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter as well as in length. They showed the usual red radishes, but the ones that drew my attention were long oblong, red ones with the white tips. My Seed Savers Catalog calls them French Breakfast radishes.

R: They are one of the few growers who show up at farmers' market with bi-colored corn. On that morning they also had a berry good presentation with strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries.

Z: Berry good, Reuben! I found myself quite interested in the offerings of Charles Xiong from Fresno. He sold greens that many people would not think of cooking and eating. Xiong, who was born in Laos and arrived in the U.S. 26 years ago, was happy to talk about the greens. On the tables were leaves from bitter melon, chayote, squash, okra, and long beans. His Asian customers, who buy these leaves often, recognize the great food value of these greens they use in their cooking.

R: Charles has a 10-acre farm, but he is careful to rotate his planting, using 4 acres at a time. I was intrigued by his baby kabocha squashes that are white inside instead of yellow and only three or four inches in diameter. He has obviously mastered the art of growing giant daikon radishes. His were up to 16 inches long.

Tomato Z: Wong Farms from North Shore in the Salton Sea area was featuring hydroponic tomatoes. On their 3-acre farm they boast about growing "a tomato that tastes like a tomato." That morning they were featuring their Shady Lady and Mountain Gold varieties as well as green tomatoes. Deborah Wong Chamberlain was busy assembling an order but took a minute to hand us her card that announced their web site at http://www.tastytomato.com.

R: By this time our readers are probably wondering about the stone fruits that were available. There were plenty. Walker Farms from Exeter showed yellow peaches, white and yellow nectarines, three varieties of plums (Santa Rosa, black, and red), Rainier and Bing cherries, and pluots, that plum/apricot hybrid.

Z: Rodriguez Farm from Selma also had nectarines, apricots, plums and cherries along with Peruvian and Yukon Gold potatoes and their cute baby tomatillos. Verni from Clovis also featured white and yellow peaches, white and yellow nectarines, cherries, plums, and giant Kadota figs as well as their own extra virgin olive oil.

R: Citrus lovers found their desires satisfied by J and C Ranch from Fillmore and Gless Farms from Riverside. Both sold Valencia oranges, grapefruit, and lemons. There were still Fuji apples available from the ubiquitous Ha Family from Tehachapi.

Z: We have seen West Flower Growers from Oxnard at some of the markets, but that morning they had one item I can't stop talking about--artichoke blossoms. Picture a pinkish purple pincushion surrounded by artichoke leaves to create a bowl. The blossoms were 5 to 6 inches across. Wow! What a spectacular plant!

R: They did have some beautiful Canterbury bells in pink, white and purple, gerbera daisies, and chrysanthemums, but I was certainly drawn to those artichoke blossoms as well.

Z: We searched to find the market manager, and, to our surprise, he was someone we knew. Christopher Nyerges supervises the market on Thursdays when he is not involved in his School of Self-Reliance. We have a link to http://www.self-reliance.net on our Links We Love page. One of these days we plan to join him on a wild food outing.

R: That morning his table displayed his twig pencils made from willow and a few of the100 plants he is certified to sell. Christopher with his wife, Dolores, has been managing the market for a year. He also happens to live nearby in Eagle Rock. When we asked him what made the market unique, he quickly answered, "The location. People can't miss it because it's right in the downtown area. It's not hidden like some of the markets, and we don't need to block off the street."

Z: As we headed back to the car, I paused to watch Richard McKinley demonstrating the Chopper Machine with a free grater, all for $19.95. By that time Reuben was tugging on my arm and pulling me away.

Glendale Certified Farmers' Market
Brand Blvd. between Broadway and Wilson Ave.
Thursdays 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
Phone: 323-255-9502

Reviewed July 2001

Click here for past Farmers' Market Reviews

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