The Berkeley Farmers' Market: start here...
Going to the Farmers’ Markets in Berkeley is like going to the circus, only with vegetables.
The Berkeley Farmers’ Markets (ecologycenter.org/bfm/) were initiated in 1987 under the umbrella of the Berkeley Ecology Center to bring fresh, sustainably grown foods to Berkeley neighborhoods, and to support the farmers who grew that food.
Many market vendors are organic, even those vendors who sell prepared foods. The Thursday market, is in fact, all organic. And just so you’ll know in advance, you’d better bring a bag to carry your stuff, because most vendors don’t have them. And if someone does give you a bag, don’t count on storing food in it for any length of time, because the bags are—yep—biodegradable; they start to fall apart within a day.
The food is beautiful, and fresh fruits and vegetables sweep in and out of the market year-round with the seasons. The vendors are knowledgeable and friendly, and happy to share whatever they know. There’s usually a guy with a guitar sitting on an overturned bucket flogging the blues, sometimes, more than one. Last Saturday, the goat cheese people brought baby goats, and the little kids got to hold them.
Most vendors (ecologycenter.org/bfm/vendors) show up at all three markets. There are yogurt people, cheese people, goat farm people, and the pasta guy. There’s a coffee guy, a date guy (everything you ever wanted to know about dates), an apple juice guy, the mushroom people, more than one bakery, really good ice cream (samples, always), honey people, jam people, and olive oil people. Fish people. Meat people. An egg guy.
Berkeley has three Farmers’ Markets in three different locations, on three different days of the week. The Tuesday market in South Berkeley meets at King and Derby Streets, from 2-7:00 p.m. The North Berkeley market (all organic) meet just down the street from Chez Panisse at Shattuck and Rose from 3-7:00 pm. on Thurdays. The Saturday market meets from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. in downtown Berkeley at King and Center Streets. Every market is on a bus line, and the Saturday market (bonus!) is a block west of the downtown Berkeley BART station. Hours are long enough to accommodate parents who want to stop by with their kids after school, as well as shoppers on their way home from work.
If you’re curious about how good organic food really is, or if you want to support organic farmers, this is the place. If you’re a parent and you want to open a window into the world of real food for your kids, stop by. If you’re bored, it's a scene. If you’re hungry, there are samples.
It’s a happy place. You should go.