Saturday, January 7, 2012

Day 7: The Farmers That Feed Me

Today is Saturday, big news I know. But, what that means is that the Torrance Certified Farmers' Market was going today. And, for a change, I actually went to the Saturday market.

Now, this isn't that big of a deal, I go at least once a week, usually to the Tuesday Torrance Market and sometimes to other farmers' markets. After all, I am a farm writer, it is where I go to work; to take photos, interview farmers, and hear the latest news in the farm world so that I have something to write about.

But it is also where I go to get my own farm fresh produce (at least the stuff that I don't grow myself). Using yet another tired, irritating cliche, I believe in "walking the walk." How can I advocate for something that I don't do myself? I am many things, not all of them good, but hypocritical isn't one of them.

I know that I often complain that my work is low or no paying and while that is true, there are so many things I get from my work that I never got from my previous career(s) (ah yes, multiple). I looooooooove what I do. I am not stuck in an office at a cubicle, I have flexibility and freedom that I never dreamed was possible, I am always learning new things and using my brain (although I am not sure that's always obvious to others), and I have met some of the most wonderful people in the world, California's farmers.

I know this blog isn't about farming or farm reporting, my LAFarmGirl blog is for that, but just to give you an idea of how important they are, California farmers still produce over 50% of the fresh fruits and vegetables in the United States. And, I could write endlessly about them, about the struggles they face in keeping themselves in business, to survive against so many factors that make their survival seem impossible, but again, this is not the blog for that.

January 7, 2012, my Torrance Certified Farmers' Market haul

Instead, I just wanted to write about the good day that I had with my "co-workers" some of whom I am proud to call friends. I bought some things from them today. You can see them in this photo. They don't look all that different than the stuff you can buy at the supermarket. But they are different. Aside from the freshness and taste that fresh picked produce provides me, the difference is that I know every farmer that grew them.

There are tomatoes from Valdivia Farms in Carlsbad, organic Satsuma tangerines from Thys Ranch in Fallbrook, grapes from M.B. (Mark Boujikian) Farms in Fresno County, russet potatoes from Zuckerman Farms in Stockton, carrots from Yasutomi Farms in Orange County, and organic strawberries from Danny Hashiba in Pico Rivera.

And, many of them are even more local. Carol Thys lives in Torrance and she treks down to her parents' ranch twice a week to bring fresh fruit to the farmers' market, Mark Boujikian might have a farm in Fresno County, but he lives in Redondo Beach. And, Danny Hashiba farms and lives in Orange County, but he's a mean ballroom dancer who dances locally in Lomita and has won many dancing contests.

It is because of them, getting to know them, that I do what I do, that I write about the important work that they do. They are the reason I am writing another book, they are what keeps me going even when I wonder why I gave up a "secure" benefit-filled job. I do this because their stories need to be told and they are not only too busy to do it themselves, but too modest. And, I want to thank them for doing what they do. As American Farmland Trust says, "No Farms No Food."

Danny Hashiba, not only is he a successful farmer, but he's an awesome ballroom dancer and is as big a smart ass as I am!

Carol Thys, one of the nicest people in the world and she works hard to help her parents keep their ranch going

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