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It's All About The Produce
by David Womack
David Womack is an award winning screenwriter and the author of Mountain Bike! Orange County, published in November 2007. His blog, MountainBikeOC, offers detailed information on local trails and mountain-biking events.

It’s hard to talk about fresh produce without mentioning California. In the world of fruits and vegetables, California epitomizes abundance. Yes, folks may have come here for the gold, but they stayed for the artichokes and the asparagus.

Orange County in particular has a noteworthy agricultural history and not just for its namesake fruit. The region was once known for, of all things, celery. Other local crops included, tomatoes, avocados, onions and strawberries. Famously, both the Segerstroms and the Irvines were farmers before the hand of fate forced them to give up their hoes and make a fortune in real estate.

These days our local soil may sprout more condominiums than cauliflower, however Orange Countians still have access to quality produce. And not just produce from the monolithic producers in the San Joaquin and Imperial Valleys. The are still plenty of moderately sized farms within driving distance of your home - avocados in Fallbrook, citrus in Corona, eggs in Chino and strawberries in Oxnard.

These farmers not only want to sell you their produce, they are willing to drive the produce to your town and sell it to you. In the last several years, farmers markets have sprouted across the Southland faster than sweet peas. And why not? The markets are a boon for consumers and farmers alike. Consumers get a fresher and more diverse selection of produce and farmers get the bonus of selling directly to the public. Many family farms depend on local markets to survive.

Coastal Orange County has three Saturday morning markets to choose from. In Corona del Mar, farmers set up booths in the parking lot near Bandera’s. It’s a small and casual market -shoppers stroll in their jogging suits drinking lattes – but there is a little something for everyone. Look for fresh juice, fresh eggs and a friendly grower with Asian vegetables. There is also a very popular flower seller here.

The Laguna Beach market sets up in the Lumberyard parking lot just next to the police station. Rain or shine, farmers offer a small cross section of organic and conventional produce. It’s a fairly friendly and laid back atmosphere, many of the farmers seem to be on a first name basis with their regular customers.

The Irvine market, across the street from UCI, is the largest market in Orange County. The crowded conditions and odd collection of vendors gives the market a feeling of a bizarre bazaar. There is live music, prepared food – from rotisserie chicken to granola – crafts, clothing and even homemade dog food. Of course there are plenty of produce stands as well. Look for an exceptional selection of Asian produce and seasonal varieties of wild mushrooms.

Yes, the produce is there, now you just have to get out of bed on Saturday morning.

Laguna Beach Farmers Market
Lumberyard Parking Lot
8 a.m. –Noon/ 8 – 11 a.m. July and August. Saturdays

Corona Del Mar Farmers Market
Pacific Coast Highway and Marguerite Avenue
9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturdays

Irvine Farmers Market
Irvine Center (on the corner of Bridge and Campus)
8 a.m. – Noon. Saturdays

January: Avocado, strawberry, broccoli, lemon, cabbage, cauliflower, peas, lettuce
February: Orange, kumquat, artichoke, rhubarb, tangerine, carrot, celery, beets
March: Squash, asparagus, grapefruit
April: Turnip, radish
May: Corn, beans, potato, tomato, onion, cucumber
June: Peach, plum, apricot, eggplant, pepper, berries
July: Melon, grape, sweet potato, apple, pepper, figs
September: Pumpkin, macadamia nut
October: Pear
November: Persimmon, kiwi
December: Tangerine

Published: Jul 23,2008 14:11
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