Just think about it: summer break is 12 straight weeks of relaxation, travel, and fun. I personally have my summer traditions; heading to the beach, getting routine mani/pedi’s, browsing at thrift stores, and, probably my favorite, visiting the local Farmer’s Market. In suburban Orange County and urban LA, it’s hard to find that slice of produce heaven, but believe me, it exists…and I’m always more than happy to find it.
You know when you watch cooking competition shows (Chopped, anyone?) they always describe their food and ingredients like they’re living, essential components to their dishes? “Look how beautiful those carrots are!” or “This puree just perfectly finishes the piece.”—well monkey see, monkey do. So when I walked into the local, Old Towne Orange Farmers Market (held every Saturday for those of you local to the big OC), I immediately felt the pseudo-chef in me jump up in excitement. “Look at all the colors!” it yelled at me.
The most colorful thing that drew me in? A batch of colorful cauliflower…you yeah you heard me right: colorful cauliflower. I wanted one just because it looked so unique and pretty! But my partner in crime and life, we’ll call him M, being the sensible one of the two of us asked very practically, “when was the last time you cooked cauliflower?” Touché sir, touché.
Fruits and veggies were plenty here, with crazy hybrids and classic comforts. Fruit stands, in particular, usually have sliced up samples of their latest harvest. There’s nothing quite like biting into a juicy blood orange while browsing through the apriums and ollalieberries (trust me, those are both real things).
What’s great about this Farmer’s Market, and a growing trend I’ve seen in the regional markets of the area, is the diversity of product available to purchase. It’s not just fruits and veg anymore, friends; you can buy fresh baked bread, homemade tamales, and even freshly caught fish. M loves the fish stand, and always stops to chat with the fisherman. They’ll tell him stories of their morning haul, and I’ll wander over to the delicious almond butter spreads and the locally harvested honey pots. Or I’ll find the flower stand. Oh how I love the flower stand!
So if you’re planning on heading out to your local open-air market, here are a few tips to make your trip as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible.
- Bring several reusable bags; canvas and/or other cloths work best. Many of the vendors do have plastic bags but to carry all those bad boys around is pretty awkward and cumbersome. At least with a canvas tote, you can sling it over your shoulder to make the shopping experience effortless. These fabric bags are super function and inexpensive; I tend to splurge and opt for slightly pricier but all the more chic.
- Bring cash! While some stands do use Square or Stripe now, Farmers’ Markets have been executing mainly cash sales for decades; why mess with a good thing?
- Wear comfortable shoes—take it from the girl who decided to don wedges on uneven concrete. Sometimes these markets are held in parking lots, other times they’re held in parks; whatever the terrain, you’ll be prepared wearing cute flats, a sparkly sandal, or a comfy sneaker.
- Hydrate! You may underestimate how long you’re there. Lucky for me, M is very much on top of the H2O situation, so I’m never far from a filled water bottle. Maybe I should invest in a new Swell Bottle!
As the newest member of the A-List team, I would love to get to know you all! Any other suggestions for the Farmer’s Market or have another shopping experience for me to try? Let me know! Find A-List on Instagram, Facebook, or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!