Farmers Market. Or is it Farmers’ Market? Does it belong to The Farmers? Is it for them? I thought it was for me. A Farmers’ Market is where Farmers go to buy food, isn’t it? It should be, if it’s not. I didn’t see any Farmers shopping for food this morning. Just selling food. The only people I saw shopping for food were other yuppies like me. Some of them were trying to conceal their identities by dressing as hippies. But we can smell our own kind. Shallow materialism has a very distinct aroma.
As a phenomenon in and of itself, the farmers markets I’ve know have always been in California. My earliest experience with a “The Farmers Market” was with the one in West Hollywood. Apparantly its been there since 1934. This establishment is very similar to the Brentwood Country Mart. These were probably once very humble establishments where people who actually lived in a semi-agricultural community would go for basic commerce – a market in the most abstract of senses, a place where transactions for goods and services could take place in an open clearinghouse. At least, that’s the vision I like to have in my head. I always like to think of people as having been nobler in the past, having only recently descended into the wretched form we currently assume.
But with the except of the aformentioned two, the farmers markets to which I have become accustomed as an adult are entirely mobile. They show up on a regular day of the week, for just a few short hours, then pack up and travel back to their places of origin, only to show up again a week later. They are usually an affair support and organized by the local community, generally with encouragement of the local city government. I’ve been to ones in Thousand Oaks, Beverly Hills, Palos Verdes, West Los Angeles, Brentwood, Century City, and, of course, the ones in Santa Monica.
We have farmers markets in three different locations throughout the week. In fact, they are available three days a week. Santa Monicans, in fact, are so nuts about this ritual that if you google “farmers market” the third most popular result is the one on the city’s info page.
Wednesday’s farmers market is probably the most professional of the bunch. The crowd attending this one are a very serious set – they generally come prepared with their own wheeled carts, know the growers and their wares, and adhere to strict courtesy: queuing, cash only, no chit-chat-while-others-are-waiting. In fact, the Wednesday market thumbs its nose at the others. This market is a monstrosity that stretches to encompass all of the area it’s weak Saturday younger brother does – everything along Arizona from 4th to 2nd Streets – then gobbles up another half block in every direction from the intersection of 2nd and Arizona. It’s organic in more than one sense. It seems to be growing.