Saturday, July 25, 2009

Produce Plus

Our travels have brought us to Chico, California, home of my (Chuck's) cousins Steve Miller and his wife Betty and Neal Miller and his wife Lisa and near the home of their mother, Martha Hoover.

After meeting Martha for breakfast, the three of us stopped at the Farmers' Market, a year-round Saturday morning gathering of the Chico citizenry. Vendors are set up by 7:30, and the townsfolk are at their favorite merchants waiting for the set ups to be completed.

Known formally as the Chico Certified Farmers’ Market in Butte County, farmers, artists and merchants gather to sell their locally grown (or made) products at the parking lot at 2nd and Wall streets in downtown Chico.

They back up their cars and, mostly, trucks to form two main walkways for the market. Several booths were selling colorful bouquets of flowers, and several people were carrying bouquets as they made their way through the crowds.

The walk through the isles took a good while because several of the merchants seem to have "regulars" lined up at their tables.

These lemon cucumbers (above) were a vegetable that I had not seen before.

The same could be said for these eggplants. Their shape was new to me.

Judging by the number of exchanges of greetings by first names, we could see that there were relationships between merchants and customers that went beyond mere purchases of goods.

This booth, selling a variety of breads, could match the output from a fine retail bakery.

The walk past the nearly 60 booths of fruits and vegetables was a walk past some of the freshest, most beautiful produce imaginable.

The walk offered an opportunity to photograph produce as an art form, emphasizing colors and shapes.

Seeing two ears of white sweet corn selling for $1.00 made me think of Jersey sweet corn, arguably the finest sweet corn on the market. Ah, Silver Queen from New Jersey . . . .

This is a merchant's view of the woven tote bags for sale at his table. There were other booths with soaps, aromatherapy fragrances, painted rocks, and tee shirts for sale, but today was produce-focused.

I couldn't decide which of the subjects--this clown or the produce--was the more colorful.

I was more caught up with the photo opportunities, Kate was looking at the items as food. Shown here are our first purchases--a bottle of garlic extra virgin olive oil, a sourdough boule, a meat spice with extra garlic, three zucchini date muffins, and some organic garlic cloves.

Betty had told us not to buy any tomatoes, squash, or zucchini, because she had plenty from their garden for us.

We're still here next Saturday, so we think we'll return to stock up before we travel on.

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