Now that I’ve turned 27, I’ve successfully gotten very deep into two stereotypical activities for 27 year old college-educated males: talking about The Wire and going farmer’s markets. Before you stop reading, let me say upfront that this is not going to be one of those posts that compares everything to The Wire (Marlo is Capitalism, bro…) and praises the joys of healthy eating (processed foods are for slobs, bro…). This is an informative post about life on the Farmer’s Market’s streets. That being said, eating a really choice salad with fresh organic arugula, verde, beefsteak, hydroponic tomatoes, and summer lettuce while watching David Simon’s biting-yet-brilliant statement on American society does sound pretty epic. But I’m getting sidetracked here, the real joy of the modern, urban Farmer’s Market, is that they operate just like the drug trade. So here are some rules for the Farmer’s Market, and as we know, “it’s all in the game.”
1. Know A Dealer
Currently residing in the fruit bowl in my kitchen, I have about seven dollars’ worth of avocados, snugly nestled in there with my 19-cent Trader Joes’ bananas. These ‘cados got there cause I know a guy. Said guy sounds a lot like Zohan (shout out to Adam Sandler’s underappreciated masterpiece) and makes appearances at Farmer’s Markets in the LA area. I’m not gonna give up his name because snitches get stitches, but let’s just say this dude moves the finest product at the best prices. He has successfully used the basic Haas avocado as a gateway drug to move me onto harder stuff like bacon avocados (cool it, hipster, they don’t taste like bacon), and some that are just called “fuerte.” I walk up to him, give him the scrilla, and he gives me a grab bag of product. If I’m lucky he even throws in a lemon — because I know the guy.
2. Know The Product
But that’s just the avocados, don’t even get me started on the strawberries. This is California. Second only to weed, Californians are experts at describing their tomatoes in hyperbolic terms. Two weeks ago I got a basket of Chilean, seaside-enhanced, pesticide-free, organic, semi-sweet minis. I was underwhelmed. This week, however, I wanted to cop volume so I went for an Orange County Avalon strain and was highly satisfied. That said, your favorite berry could be wiped out by a wildfire. You gotta have a backup plan so, in case those Avalons go dry, you can switch over to the Boleros.
3. Have a Plan
You don’t walk into the jungle without supplies and expect to survive. In this Farmer’s Market game, we’re pawns and the fruit pushers are the Dons. Before you approach you gotta know what you’re looking for and where to find it. I’ve seen many a lost soul get sucked in by the sweet smells of the Kettlecorn tent. I’ve seen old men get lost in the glasses and hair ￼bun of the flirty French babe at the crepe stand. Know your entrance. Always know your exit. Also be aware of the ambush spots (aka the Hare Krishnas) and the sinkholes (citrus stands with toothpick samples will do you in for hours). I shouldn’t have to tell you to roll with only the cash you need and nothing more. If you go in there with a fat wad of green and dreams of paleo smoothies, you’re going to be walking out with gluten-free sweet potato cobblers by the dozen. No bueno.
4. Be on The Lookout For The COP
I know what you’re thinking. What does the current police state have to do with my quest for butternut squash? Everything, shitbird. There is always one COP, one singular officer of the law, that hates the Farmer’s Market. The friendly, aromatic street gathering is full of college stoner hippies, unlicensed food venders, and immigrants. Three things this guy hates. Just by associating with Patience (your tomato girl), you’re making yourself a target. Don’t be surprised if he puts you in their database of 27 year old malcontents. And, once you buy that Phish/DMB ticket for the summer show, you’ll move from database to watchlist. Be aware of your surroundings and constantly watch your back. Just because his post at the butter cake stand (closest thing to donuts, duh) is at the entrance, it doesn’t mean he won’t follow you in.
5. Stay Humble
Sure, you have a one on one relationship with each dealer, that’s great, but don’t flaunt it. This is a Farmer’s Market. If people wanted a show off, they’d go to the Whole Foods on Wilshire. Put your purchases in the thin, plastic CVS bags they give you, not your freed-trade/plastic-free bag you bought at Living Green. No one wants to know you’re rich. This is place for common folk, leave your entitlement at Trader Joe’s.
As you can tell, I take this Farmer’s Market game very seriously. Anyone who doesn’t is probably still housing milkshakes and telling you Sons of Anarchy is the best show ever. I didn’t make these rules, years and years and seasons of seasons of product and produce did. Me, I’m just like anybody else in this produce game… trying to become the king.