UCI’s Farmers Market is a great place to buy fresh produce or just enjoy a sunny Saturday morning.
There are a lot of reasons why it’s so nice going to farmers markets: fresh fruits and vegetables, getting to talk with new people, seeing different things… it’s just way more fun than buying food at the grocery store. Even knowing that, I never knew exactly when and where good farmers market were located and ended up doing my groceries at a random supermarket (I know, I’m not a very organized person).
Last week I heard about a farmers market very close to UCI and went there to check it out. I wasn’t so happy about the hours – they’re there every Saturday from 9 am until noon, and my Saturdays only begin after 11 am. Still, I was excited to go – and a bit afraid of losing it and spending too much money (for some reason I cannot control myself at farmers markets).
When I got there, I immediately asked myself why I don’t plan ahead and do my groceries in places like that. It is so much better. The first thing I saw was a flower booth, with breathtaking flowers and a very friendly vendor (and, of course, I had to buy some). On the booth next to this one, they were offering samples of different fruits, like strawberries and apples; so on my first 5 minutes there I already knew that it would be a very pleasant morning. It was a beautiful day, too; well, we’re in Orange County, blue skies and sunshine every day. It was just a great way to begin the Saturday!
UCI’s farmers market is not so big, but as I was walking and checking all of the booths, I was convinced that they offer much more quality products than other farmers markets in the O.C. They have a lot of fresh and certified organic fruits and vegetables, grass-fed beef, homemade desserts, artisan breads, free range eggs, pressed juices and even some crafts. There are also short performances of local artists, always a very nice thing to see and appreciate. Last Saturday, a country singer – a very nice and friendly man, by the way – was performing and promoting his albums. It was fun to watch and a nice Saturday soundtrack.
I found the prices reasonable, but keep in mind that organic produce is always a bit more expensive. Even so, I think it’s cheaper than the organic section of most grocery stores. Also remember that you’re dealing with the vendor in person, so it’s possible to talk and negotiate if you feel that the prices are too high. Oh, and cool tip here: they have to close at noon, so usually at 11:55 the vendors want to sell the stuff that’s left – meaning that you get a bunch of things for half the price. Not all do that, but you can find good deals. I got there a bit late last time, but got a huge basket of organic strawberries for just 10 bucks. It literally made my day!
Since there are many booths and options there, I suggest walking around first, trying some samples and then deciding what to get. Most of the vendors are happy to assist people and offer different samples. Don’t get too excited (like me sometimes) and buy all at once. Take your time, browse around and then go the fun part – which is, of course, shopping. Since the parking space is not so big and things can get a bit crazy after 11 am, get there early to prevent unnecessary stress.
Yummy stuff that I brought home
Even if you’re not there for doing the week’s grocery, it’s still quite fun just walking around, getting samples (have a free “breakfast” filled with fresh fruits and homemade goodies) and seeing different people. I went back there once more after this first visit, just to take some pictures and get a few things I had forgotten to buy last time, and it was still very fun. I got my refreshing green juice (with ginger, kale, spinach and cucumber – highly recommended) and enjoyed the nice Californian weather.