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Boulder Farmers’ Market

June 8, 2010

On 13th Street between Arapahoe and Canyon, you will find an array of people on Saturday mornings. College students, hippies, homeless, penniless, clueless, families and those absent of families, older patrons, older well-dressed patrons who appear to be cooler than most (as do the younger patrons whether hippie, student, medical marijuana doctors or patients, etc.). Boulder is a town that is both wonderful and oppressive. It is yuppie and yippee all in one breath, and I constantly cannot visit that town without being reminded of how “uncool” me and my friends are in comparison to those meandering Pearl Street or, now on two occasions, the farmers’ market.

With that aside, the market is an interesting mix of artisans (specialty processed & packaged food items), farmers and ranchers, and cooked food vendors. The market is an occasion for the residents of Boulder and I believe as the growing season progresses that there will be much more diversity in terms of produce available to the consumers. So early season Boulder can be a bit of a let down, although the smells from the cooked food vendors (like those at a fair, etc., but better quality) helps make up for the lack of selection in fresh produce as well as the narrow, narrow walk ways. If you get frustrated with people blocking lanes in your grocery store and becoming seemingly impervious to your presence when trying to pass, then most of the markets I have visited are not for you and that goes especially to Boulder’s Market.

I am planning on visiting the market in August during peak season, so I want to give the market the benefit of the doubt that it can spring to life a bit more and offer a wider array of fresh produce instead of delicious spiced and seasoned almonds, gluten-free everything, Noosa yogurt (which is the best yogurt I have ever tasted, but also a product you can pick up in Whole Foods for virtually the same price). I want WOW that is not available other places. I want my experience to be unique and not just an alternative location to that of a grocery store, meaning I want local produce grown by the same person who is selling it to me as well as specialty products that I cannot buy anywhere else, such as Conscious Coffee, which is a wickedly smooth blend, roasted in Boulder and delivered via bike to local restaurants for their menus.

August will be a different experience, I am sure.  Here are some photos.

Great yogurt, because it contains quite a bit of fat. But, on the good side, a container will last me most of a week. I’ll take three or four bites with some granola or fresh fruit at a time. I prefer the honey, their base flavor, over the other blends, which include blueberry, raspberry, apricot?, and a couple of others.

I liked this dude because he had such a cutesy display, showing off his stand by stacking his reserve product in an old truck bed that had been converted to a trailer. Didn’t try any of his jam, though.

Starter plants have been a major part of every market, even Boonville’s, which I strolled through very briefly before playing golf with my father and sister one Saturday morning while in Missouri. Each and every time I see these plants, especially pepper plants, I begin dreaming of the field behind my father’s house, how it would look without the fence separating it from his yard and mown clean with fruits and vegetables in rows outlined in apple and other fruit trees. It hurts more than it is nostalgic, because someday I have a pretty sure assumption that the man up the street who owns it will be building a road through it and parceling out the land for mid-level income families in our small town, selling the land as a bordering the Katy Trail. I think of the work having to care for all that land and all the plants and trees I would like to raise there, and how I hope it would all be worth it so my kids or my nephew and niece or my friends children, when they came to visit, could sit on that screened in porch and ask questions about all the plants and trees, or we could all watch them run through the rows as we barbecued on the patio.

“Hey, Brett, isn’t it pretty to think so?”

The ladies at the Ela Family Farms stand were selling organic apple sauce and packages of dehydrated organic apples and peaches (and were super excited to see me when I returned from my trip…or so they said). I had been looking for a food, a product that traveled well, so I bought the Apples and Peaches blend that contained two kinds of apples, a sweet and a tart. The mix was quite delicious and the texture was nothing like banana chips, or anything dehydrated that is crispy, but instead, the fruit was almost the texture of chewy candy. Quite good. I’m a little disappointed that I am almost out as I have another decent drive ahead of me tomorrow, but glad they made it all the way to South Carolina. They, along with my bags of Cheerios that I packed from Wyoming and a can of peanuts I picked up in Wyoming before leaving, are still supplying my driving hunger and keeping me out of the Food Marts and drive-thrus. No fast food to date since leaving.

The Wicked Good Nuts were Wicked Good, but still too pricey for my wallet especially after purchasing the apples already. If you are in Boulder, though, definitely try a sample. They have a flavor for everyone. And in all reality, their almonds were not much more expensive than anything you could have found in a grocery store.

I couldn’t resist taking a picture of these pretzels. I did arrive at the market toward closing, around 1:00 so much of the product underneath the tents was in shadow. These pretzles were in just the right spot to catch some light, and I thought it looked cool. Didn’t buy any here, but did buy some in Chattanooga, which I will discuss later.

Quinoa is the seed of a grain-like plant, as I understand it. The plant is a cross like a grass, but also like beets and spinach. I have seen it on two menus since running across it in Boulder. I thought it tasted like plain – Tess, your favorite flavor. Apparently it is really “good” for you, containing a larger amount of protein than certain other grains. This dude, who did seem much cooler than everyone else, or at least “laid back,” tossed a sample cup into my hand. So I tossed the cup of Keen One Quinoa (plain) into my mouth from the cup that looked similar to those we used to take flouride out of in elementary school. I tossed the rest. He was selling it as a snack product, but I think if prepared similar to rice or couscous, then I may be more receptive to it. The hip chicks in their flowing dresses and another gang of athletic looking ladies and gents pulled into the Keen One tent right behind me raving about it and what their friends had told them regarding the product, so there are some fans out there. And anything that the Incas held as sacred is worth at least researching a little further. There may be something in its history that doesn’t quite get expressed in that flouride-looking cup of plain that I popped into my mouth.

You can catch an arm in the left side of this picture, proving the wind was abound in Colorado on May 22.

More starters. Also, I liked the name of her business. The business is run by whom. By Gayle. What does Gayle’s business do? It grows it. How does it grow it? Naturally. What does Gayle grow, though? Cool looking plants. That’s how expert I am.

I really wanted to buy some of this popcorn, but I decided not to because I was way over budget. I’m intrigued by all the varieties, more than Orville Redenbacher has with the chips and peanuts at the grocery store. It also does not hurt their sales that there is always a couple of attractive energetic guys and girls working the stand.

Pappardelle‘s (with flair) sells delicious looking – and probably tasting – expensive pasta. I’ll break down and try some someday, but it is like $8.00 a pound. Seems quite steep for my cheap butt on this extended food adventure of mine this summer.

Bought some spinach, chervil – I believe – and some arugula from these folks. Apparently, they have a restaurant as well, at least that is what I thought I overheard them telling another patron. They were quite busy and I believe were accepting some sort of food stamp. The greens turned into a delicious creamed dish. I sautéed the greens in bacon grease with a bit of garlic and minced onion, then creamed out the dish with heavy cream and a dash or two of Parmesan cheese…and it was quite appetizing.

As I mentioned, I did not make it to the market until nearly closing time, so a few of the stands looked a little sparse. I did buy a bag of spinach from a stand that was calling out, “$5, stuff a bag. As full as you can get it, $5.” So you can either find a good deal toward the end of the day or lose out on getting something that you really wanted because the producers have sold out. Risky business, this farmers’ market procurement of goods can be. Because I got to the market around lunch time, there were quite a few people waiting in the prepared food vendor lines. I’m really not sure what I call these stands. Food carts? Food stands? Prepared food vendors? How does that differ from those vendors/producers who are selling jam or salsa, etc.? Anyway, much of this food smelled delicious, and again, there were many options for all the particular eaters out there: gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, no gmo, no antibiotic meats, all meat, meat on a stick, meat in a cup, puréed vegetables in a sno-cone cup, etc. Really, there was a little of everything and a covered sitting area for families, couples with dogs, the elderly, and a place for children to run around your kneecaps.

See you in August, Boulder.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    June 24, 2010 4:14 am

    I love Boulder and all its hippie-ness. This just makes me want to go to the farmer’s market every week and buy everything.

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