With Food Prices Rising, Some LA Farmers' Markets Might Offer A Deal
Here’s an uncontroversial opinion: L.A.’s farmers' markets are pretty dang cute. Great produce, delicious street food, music, an instagram-friendly atmosphere — it all makes for a pretty trendy spot to spend an afternoon.
California has more farmers' markets than any other state, and L.A. County alone has a whopping 116. It’s not hard to find your nearest market: The L.A. Almanac has a great list of all of them, but they’re also just a search away on Google Maps. Many are open on weekends, and there’s plenty on weekdays too.
Farmers' markets make it easy to find local, organic produce, and the open air can make grocery shopping feel like less of a chore.
And there's another big upside: most customers save money shopping at farmers markets compared to nearby supermarket chains. Plus, L.A.’s farmers markets are required to accept EBT. Many also accept WIC and are part of the Seniors Farmers' Market Nutrition Program, which— like it sounds, is all about making it easier for seniors to have easy access to fresh produce. Some markets even match Cal Fresh spendings through a partnership with Market Match. You can see here if there is such a market near you.
So, with the price of produce rising seemingly higher than ever, let's go check one out. As friendly as farmers' markets can be to your wallet, they’re just as friendly to the environment. Most farms are family-owned, and they take extra steps to make their farming practices more sustainable.
Sunday In Mar Vista
At the Sunday market in Mar Vista, just east of Venice Beach, vendors are eager to talk about their food.
“Everything we sell is grown on one farm,” says Steven Clark, vendor for JR Organics. Crop rotation — the process of using the same land for different crops at different times of the year — has been proven to use less water than traditional farming. It also means less need for environmentally harmful fertilizers.
“And, if we keep the nutrients in the soil,” Clark says, “it makes the flavor of everything superior.”
He waves his arm over the table: ruby-red strawberries, big bushy clumps of kale, and delightfully swollen purple onions the size of a softball. Those superior flavors make farmers markets a must-go for local chefs.
More Than Just Produce
Fresh produce isn't the only draw. At the Mar Vista market, vendors offer everything from knife sharpening to street food to handmade soaps. It’s designed to be a one-stop gathering spot for the community, says longtime executive manager Diana Rogers. “We were never about making it as simple as buying groceries,” she says.
She means it. On her right is an arepa stand (an absolute must, by the way.) On her left, an environmental booth teaches kids about the importance of bees and other pollinators. Behind her a DJ is busy bumping out 80s dance hits.
“We like to give our neighborhood a place for people to gather, rub elbows, talk, enjoy music,” Rogers says.
Martina Buckley, a friend and former vendor sitting next to her, nods vigorously.
“This is an unpretentious market that is for everybody,” Buckley chimes in.
For Rogers and Buckley, it’s important that the market provides a place for their community to come and do more than just shop every week.
Where To Go
If you want to check out the Mar Vista farmers market, it happens every Sunday at the corner of Venice and Grand View boulevards, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The market is celebrating its 16th anniversary on August 7, with a country fair themed party. They’ll have corn shucking, pie eating contests, and special music, so be sure to check that out if you live nearby or fancy a drive.
If Mar Vista is too far, we’ve got you covered. Here’s a list of some of our favorites across Los Angeles.
- Downtown, Sundays, on 5th & Spring.
- Larchmont, Wednesdays & Sundays, on Larchmont & Beverly.
- Echo Park, Fridays, on Sunset & Logan.
- LA River (Chinatown), Thursdays, at Los Angeles State Historic Park.
- Studio City, Sundays, on Ventura Place & Laurel Canyon.
- Calabasas, Saturdays, on Calabasas Rd off the Valley Circle exit on the 101.
- Northridge, Wednesdays, between Nordhoff and Plummer on Tampa.
- Adams & Vermont, Wednesdays, in the Saint Agnes Church parking lot.
- Crenshaw, Saturdays, at the Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza off of Crenshaw.
- East L.A., Saturdays, on Civic Center Way & 3rd.
- Santa Monica, Wednesdays & Saturdays, on Arizona & 2nd.