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Feature Stories

Farmers Market Celebrates 33 Years

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 13
6/28/2013


By Carin Merritt

SE LONG BEACH farmers market

The first of six Harbor Area Farmers Markets, which were established on July 4, 1980, opened in downtown Long Beach. Open to the public Thursday, Friday and Sunday in three separate locations of Long Beach, farmers display their organic, seasonal produce along with a variety of hot, homemade foods.

As a society, we are becoming more aware of the food we allow into our home and onto our tables. The effects of what is eaten play a way larger role in the health and lifespan of humans than anyone can imagine. While control of the choice of by-products in our food seems to be slipping away from the individual citizen, Long Beach has implemented ways to take it back, one in the form of farmers markets.

Farmers markets are nothing new to this region. For over 60 years, from 1913-1973, Long Beach had a running farmers market before the Certified Farmers Markets were established.

A large implementation of supermarkets and their convenience methods superseded local markets resulting in a hiatus of farmers markets from 1973 until 1980. Market manager since 1989, Dale C. Whitney, says “the need for these markets rose in the concern for two disparate groups: the urban poor and the small family farmer.”

The governor of California, Jerry Brown, took a great step forward in 1977 by establishing a law for such markets. Through many concessions to the agribusiness and supermarket industries, a standard market law was established in California.

These laws, says Whitney, “provided an adequate and financially satisfying marketing arena for local farmers.” Even more, they provide a much greater opportunity for local citizens to support their community and obtain complete awareness of where their food is coming from.

One rule for these markets is that the person growing and producing must be the one to deliver and sell. This is beneficial because it gives customers the chance to directly ask the grower exactly how and where things were grown and the multiple uses of each product being sold.

The phrase genetically modified organisms (GMO), essentially means that products such as chemicals and proteins, unnatural to produce, are being added for a variety of reasons. These reasons are only beneficial for the profit of supermarket sellers, who coax shoppers into spending because the fruit is unnaturally larger and brighter and often genetically engineered to grow in times when they are typically out of season.

In turn, the same chemicals are now being put into the bodies of the consumer, and with little long term research of their negative effects, the outcome is potentially dangerous. Recent studies on the pre-onset of puberty, now showing in children as young as six, are speculated to be a result in the consumption of such foods.

The beauty of the Harbor Area Farmers Markets is the guarantee that the produce being sold does not contain GMOs. Along with the opportunity to stand face to face with the local growers, the highlighting of seasonal and local products allows buying organically at more affordable prices.

For every dollar spent at the farmers market, 62 cents is reinvested in the local economy. Compare that with every 25 cents at the local supermarkets. Only 16 percent of every dollar spent at the grocery stores is returned to the farmer.

All Harbor Area Farmers Markets are open year round except for most major holidays and remain open, rain or shine. Various meats and fish are also available throughout the market week, including grass-fed bison, fresh-caught seafood and sustainably raised chicken meats and eggs.

The uptown Long Beach market is open Thursday from 3-6:30 p.m. on 4600 Atlantic Ave. Downtown Long Beach offers a market on Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 5400 Promenade North in City Place. Sunday’s market is in Southeast Long Beach at Marina Dr. and 2nd St. from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

There are other associated market locations on different days located in Huntington Beach, Cerritos and South Gate. To check schedules, view recipes and receive more information visit www.goodveg.org or call 1-866-GOOD-VEG.

carin@longbeachcomber.com