Editor's note: Please welcome back Market Scene. Each week a correspondent from a different part of the country will check in with what's in season, what's coming up, and what you should grab before it goes out. Today, Jennifer Maiser, editor of Eat Local Challenge, kicks off with San Francisco.
It's springtime in San Francisco, and the farmers' markets are overflowing with amazing vegetables. I wanted to do a dance last weekend when I picked up fava beans—they are one of several crops that I cannot wait to see during the spring. Favas seem to last just an instant in the markets, and I am absolutely addicted to them.
People love to debate whether fava beans are worth all the trouble (I will never forgive an ex-boyfriend for declaring "Well that wasn't worth it" after eating a delicious side of fava beans I'd prepared). Last weekend I purchased three pounds and shelled them (they have an outer shell and an inner shell that I remove) over a period of 90 minutes while watching The Changeling. I think a friend was correct recently when she said that fava beans are fine to process as long as you're not doing it during the regular course of cooking. Shelling favas as something productive to do while watching a movie is much different than trying to shell them while you are trying to get ready for a weeknight dinner.
I purchased my favas from Star Route Farms, a farm which brings us delicious greens and herbs and beans. Star Route has a local farm in Bolinas and a wintertime farm in Southern California, which allows them to provide a great variety of produce throughout the year.
We're seeing the end of the local citrus season. Lemons, pomelos, tangerines, grapefruit and oranges are still available but will be wrapping up in the next few weeks. I always like to candy some citrus peels to use making cocktails throughout the year and need to remember to do so this weekend before the season wraps up.
The big buzz around the Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market is that a plastic bag ban will go into effect on May 23. Mainstream plastic bags will be banned and only compostable or recyclable bags will be available, with an end goal of seriously cutting back on bag consumption. One option will be eco-friendly (and more expensive) BioBags, which are made of compostable materials. Sellers may pass the increased cost on, so shoppers should be prepared to pay out of pocket or—even better—bring their own bags. This is all in an effort to reduce the environmental impact of farmers' markets and continue to make them the most sustainable shopping option possible.
The Ferry Plaza Farmers' Market is not the first to ban plastic bags. Other markets already doing so include:
- Irvine, California
- Boulder, Colorado
- Berkeley, California (going into effect at all four city markets on 4/25/09)
- Monterey, California
I have high hopes for the plastic bag ban, and think it's going to be interesting to see how it's received in San Francisco. Our market has a very high percentage of tourists each week, and I have reservations about how they are going to receive the ban. The optimist in me, however, thinks this is a harbinger of a nationwide trend toward considering sustainability at every level of the farmers' market shopping experience.
Seasonal Produce Guide
In Season Right this Minute
- Fava Beans
- Snap Peas
- Green Garlic
- Berries in abundance
- Pastured chickens
- Spring onions
It's Time To Put Up
- Any final citrus products
- Frozen peas Frozen asparagus
About the author: Jennifer Maiser writes about locally and sustainably grown food. She is the founder and editor of the Eat Local Challenge website and writes at Life Begins at 30, her personal weblog.