It’s easy to get stuck in a food-shopping rut — all you Trader Joe’s habitués know what we’re talking about. But now that spring’s in full swing, and Earth Day is upon us, we’re ready to inspire you (and us — we’re stuck in the Trader Joe’s rut, too) to make the most of the SG Valley’s many and wondrous farmers’ markets. To appreciate what we’ve got, farmers’-market-wise, just go to South Dakota and look for a fresh vegetable. You’ll never take California for granted again.
Here’s a week’s guide to our best markets.
Pasadena, 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., 363 E. Villa St., 626.449.0179, pasadenafarmersmarket.org. A good and affordable selection of farm-to-market produce, including organic melons (Weiser Farms), apples (Ha’s) and sustainably produced veggies (Jaime’s). It’s the same management and vendors as the larger Saturday market at Victory Park.
Sierra Madre, 3 to 7 p.m., S. Baldwin Ave. at Mariposa, 310.633.3966, sierramadrefarmersmarket.com. This is the market that’s getting the buzz lately — it’s where SG Valley foodies head midweek. It’s a food-only market — no crafts or games — and you’ll find eggs from Rivadeneira Farms, berries from R&L, organic apples and juices from Johna’s Orchard, and excellent fish and seafood from Smart Fish Co.
Glendale, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Brand Blvd. between Wilson & Broadway, 818.548.3155. It’s a pretty basic market, but you’ll find an excellent selection of citrus, including some varieties you don’t see elsewhere, and a good potato guy, as well as seasonal organic produce.
South Pasadena, 4 to 8 p.m., Meridian Ave. at Mission, 818.766.6612. This is one of the greenest markets around, because you don’t have to drive to get here — it’s right off the Gold Line Mission stop. This is a social occasion for teens, young families and date-nighters, who either get dinner from the various stands or shop for produce and then go to one of the good restaurants within a couple of blocks. Best bets include the rotisserie chicken, the great but expensive tamales, the addictive grilled corn on the cob and the good-enough selection of fruit, vegetables and flowers.
Eagle Rock, 5 to 8:30 p.m., 2100 Merton Ave., 323.225.5466. This fun evening market has live music, kids’ activities, a food court and the usual produce, flowers and food products.
Monrovia, 5 to 9 p.m., Myrtle Ave. at Olive St., 866.440.3374, cafarmersmakrets.org. As much a festival as a market, this is where Monrovia families meet on Friday nights. Live music, crafts, kids’ activities and all the farmers’-market staples.
La Canada, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1346 Foothill Blvd., 818.591.8266, ccfm.com. This compact market isn’t the cheapest one around, but it suits La Canada just fine. Good organic produce, prepared foods and a few crafts vendors.
Pasadena, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Victory Park at N. Sierra Madre and Paloma, 626.449.0179, pasadenafarmersmarket.org. Perhaps the largest market around, with a fine selection of organic produce, flowers and prepared foods; look for Ha’s apples, Weiser Farms potatoes, vegetables and organic melons, Gless Ranch citrus and Sconeage scones. Parents shop here while their AYSO kids play soccer on the adjacent fields.
Alhambra, 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m, Monterey at E. Baystate St., 626.570.5081, cityofalhambra.org. This market has a 25-year history of selling good, fresh produce at low prices.
Montrose, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Honolulu at Ocean View Ave., 805.637.6635, shopmontrose.com. One of the showiest markets around, with a bounce house, pony rides, live music, antiques vendors and monthly special events, in addition to the produce and flowers. Honolulu’s shops and cafés do a brisk business, too.