We were tempted to buy these gorgeous beets, but we wouldn’t quite know what to do with them.
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The morning was bright, with only traces of rain hinting that the weather had been torrential earlier. It was a Saturday like any other … except it was the first Saturday of the semester and we were sick of eating out. Time to restock on groceries after the free ride we got at home over winter break. However, we wanted to make an adventure out of it. Then, we had an epiphany: why not go to the farmer’s market? Farmer’s markets are not always a haven for Berkeley students. After all, they often come off as being expensive – especially when Berkeley Bowl is so close. Nevertheless, the Clog is a fan of farmer’s markets. Being the Berkeley hippies we are, we are enchanted by the idea of buying local and organic, when possible and not outrageously expensive. We also like to pretend we will have time to cook (and be good and eat our vegetables).

IMG_2377The farmer’s market on Center Street, in between Milvia Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way is our favorite. It is conveniently located (depending on where you live), accessible by bus (since it’s by the BART station), of a good size and close to Trader Joe’s (if you need to do some more shopping afterwards). Moreover, it’s every Saturday 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. If that doesn’t suit your schedule and location, there are farmer’s markets on Tuesdays in south Berkeley on Derby Street and Thursdays in north Berkeley on Shattuck at Rose Street. For more details, visit the Ecology Center website. The beginning of the market consists mostly of different restaurant vendors, everything from Tibetan food to Blue Bottle Coffee. Before deciding on purchases, we took a preliminary stroll down the marketplace.

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Mountains of carrots, various gourds and more! Stands also sell flowers, yogurt, fish, salsa, olive oil and other products.

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IMG_2347Our first purchase was rustic olive bread from Phoenix Pastificio. This bread is the kind you have dreams about, it’s so fresh and warm, the crust is flavorful and rustic, the inside soft … and oh, the olives so fresh! If you don’t like olives, there is plenty of fresh and eclectic bread to be found. Our favorite produce stop has to be Happy Boy Farms – and not just because the drawings on their signs are so cute.

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radishWe already thought the watermelon radishes they had were interesting and colorful, but then we saw one cut open, with a pink starburst center. Apparently they are usually pinker, but it looked pretty to us! The produce was pretty well priced, some of the items were cheaper as a “rainy day special.” We ended up picking up some butterball potatoes and baby spinach, with great cooking plans in mind!

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We walked by more baked goods from Moonlite Bakery, and had to stop. Their butternut-sage galette made us drool a little, it looked so good. And pretty. Call us superficial, but we like it when our food both looks and tastes good … maybe that’s why we love the farmer’s market?

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Our friend got the vegetable frittata pastry, also a looker (and it tasted good too).

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Did we mention there were street performers? Yes, the farmer’s market is more than just veggies, there’s live entertainment involved. The people and music really add to the atmosphere. This guy was doing crazy magic tricks with a floating glass ball. It was cool, we swear.

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There were all sorts of vendors, from local dairies (mmmm, cheese!) to the people below, who were selling fresh tomato juice and potatoes out of their car.

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Another vendor that caught our eye was the crazy mushroom booth (that’s what we call it, but really they’re Solano Mushroom).

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They sell more than mushrooms; they also had some interesting dates, Japanese sweet potatoes and Asian pears, yum! We got some samples.

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We also stopped at Riverdog Farms for some collard greens, and were impressed by the variety of their leafy greens.

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Makes us want to eat more vegetables.

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We were tempted to buy these gorgeous beets, but we wouldn’t quite know what to do with them.

And just when we thought we were going to stop buying things, we saw this:

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These beautiful clementine mandarins – tangerines, whatever you call them – were straight out of a painting, or a book about cooking or gardening, or our imaginations. We didn’t think they made them that perfectly orange. They called to us, so naturally we bought some. Brokaw Nursery (known for their avocadoes) also had guavas and cherimoyas (which we just had to Wikipedia).

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IMG_2387We were sad to leave the bright colors and smiling faces of the farmer’s market, but we knew that if we stayed any longer our wallets would be empty and our arms unable to lug all of the groceries home. But we had made some good purchases, seen some crazy fruit, eaten lots of samples and soaked up the sun before the inevitable return of the rain. Next sunny Saturday morning, why not take a stroll down Center? We promise you’ll feel pretty sophisticated, and you can pick up some food you can feel good about (don’t worry, we buy sour cream and cheddar Ruffles too). Let us know what cherimoyas are like.

For dinner that night, we made collard greens with bacon. A good day, all around.

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Image sources: Fiona Hannigan, Daily Cal



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