Berkeley Farmers’ Market and Organic Vegies

Every Saturday, I’m in charge of checking out what food we need to buy.  As I check the frig, I make a list of what we can get from the Berkeley Farmers’ Market.  I really enjoy going there.  We get to see our neighbors, and we know that the food is organic, fresh and local.

We buy organic food because my parents taught us that it’s more nutritious.  They also knew that organic farming is really good for the environment, and it’s a great way to support our local farmers.

Organic farmers don’t use any synthetic pesticides or synthetic fertilizers, irritation or biotechnology, so we’re taking in fewer toxins.  It wasn’t until the 20th century that synthetic chemicals were introduced into our food.  Yeah, it used to be that farming was always organic.

In 1940, a man named Lord Northbourne coined the phrase “organic farming.”  He said to look to the land and see the farm as an organism.  He encouraged people to use a holistic, ecologically balanced approach to farming.  He sounds like a pretty cool guy.

It’s also pretty cool to walk the aisles of the market.  I love the colors of all the vegetables and fruits.  They look so happy and smell great.  We buy a lot from Happy Boy Farms.  They’ve been farming organically for over 20 years and do everything by hand – from harvesting to washing to packing.

At the Farmers’ Market, you can tell who is growing organic food by the sign in their stall.  You see, farmers who grow organically not only have to register with the California Department of Food and Agriculture, but they also have to be certified by a third party that is not a government agency.  In California, organic farmers register primarily with the California Certified Organic Farmers.

It’s a little harder to be an organic farmer because they do a lot of things by hand.  Here’s a list of some of what organic farmers do to make sure we have food that tastes great and is healthy for us:

  • Uses beneficial insects and birds to reduce pests and disease;
  • Rotates their crops;
  • Pulls weeds by hand and/or uses mulch to manage them;
  • Naturally enriches the soil with compost and manure; and
  • Collects seeds to grow heirloom varieties of plants.

And it’s not just organic vegetables you can get at the Farmers’ Market ~ you can also get delicious organic fruits … like these figs and pears I’m looking at here.  They were handpicked and ready to eat!

And who always brings a smile to my face and all the other kids at the Farmers’ Market but Dozo the Clown who makes great balloon animals! My kids love it.

And don’t forget chocolate and ice cream.  That’s right ~ we always get my sons favorite ice cream –Three Twins ~ and it’s organic.  And the couple that sell it are really sweet and friendly.

It’s pretty wonderful that for every food product, there’s an organic alternative.

Yeah, even bread, which makes Petie really happy.  Phoenix Pastificio makes this great olive bread that Petie just can’t get enough of.  Good thing he plays a lot of baseball to work off the extra calories!

So you see, you can buy just about all you need at the Farmers’ Market, and it’s organic and you’re supporting small farmers and you’re helping the ecosystem.  It’s just a win-win all around! Well, it’s time to make dinner from some of the veggies we bought today.

Here’s to happy, healthy food!

Mark Thomas