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Reason to Stay
Affording San Francisco is a problem for Darya Mead, but the Alemany farmer's market is the cure.
By Darya Mead
I woke up grumpy, feeling burdened and tired, tired of the struggle of raising a family in San Francisco. With rising costs, stagnant income, the school scramble, traffic, parking... I'd had it. I was feeling old and bitter.
Like every Saturday morning, I headed to the Alemany Farmers Market, near our micro-mini house in the Excelsior neighborhood. The market beckons me, come rain or shine, wind or fog.
That day, the winter sun was brilliant. With my wheelie cart in tow, I made the rounds as the sun bolstered my sagging spirit and the phenomenal array of produce slowly made me smile. With a budget of $25, I choose my produce wisely, counting my pennies and triaging the need for organic without compromising quality. The colorful and quintessentially San Francisco, Precita Eyes murals, in each stall and surrounding the market, are worth a visit alone.
I love the people, the ethnic gumbo, the exotic fruits and veggies I struggle to identify, and all the characters! The intrepid old man, bent over like a C, the bread guy from Brazil who was an engineer in another life, the lovely Latina lady who sells berries, flowers, delicato squash to die for and the most divine little bunches of sweet carrots perfect for a Bugs Bunny imitation and my kids' lunch boxes. I have certain favorite sellers and often share the latest news and updates on my kids, who joined me in-utero, in strollers and now on foot, occasionally bribed by a pain-au-chocolat. I'm learning Russian and Chinese haggling techniques and on this day I had a new 'pumpkin-ish' squash to experiment with. The vendor suggested roasting it in halves with butter and brown sugar. I just like to look at it on my window-sill.
With basket full, I returned home to my boys watching a cooking show on TV. I'm hoping some of my efforts and enthusiasm rub off, for a lifetime of healthy eating and connection to where food comes from, because at this rate and despite the many gems this city has to offer, that is the only inheritance I can hope to give them.
With a Perspective, I'm Darya Mead.