If you knew your local grocer was selling lettuce that had been harvested within the last 24 hours, wouldn’t you rather get the ingredients for tonight’s dinner salad from that grocer? Fruits and vegetables begin to lose flavor and nutrients within an hour of being picked, so it’s best to get them as close to the source as possible. With gardening and local, organic eating hot right now, more people are taking up gardening and growing their own. But if that’s not your thing, the South Bay offers several grocery and farmers market options for finding the freshest of fruits, vegetables and other locally grown products. Not only will you get food at the peak of freshness and flavor, but you’ll be doing the earth a favor by reducing the transportation impact on the environment. Check the Community Alliance with Family Farmers’ website (www.caff.org) for a complete list of markets selling locally grown products.
Grow, Manhattan Beach
Grow’s claim to fame is that is sells produce far fresher than what you will find at your grocery chain, usually for the same price or less. A farming family that also operates a separate business shipping fresh fruit from California runs this small grocery. Often, their products sell within 24 hours of harvest. In addition to fruits and vegetables, Grow offers fresh, locally raised meats, locally made organic breads, cheeses and other specialty products. Grow is perhaps best known for its cherries during the summer months.
Whole Foods Market, El Segundo and Redondo Beach
Since it opened in 1980, this national chain has been the leader in buying from local producers. Since 2007, it has given $4 million in low-interest loans to neighborhood farmers, bakers and artisans. As you look around the store, you will see with products signs that read “Grown 3 miles from here.” In case you’re wondering, to be considered a “locally grown” product at any Whole Foods store, the product must travel less than one day, seven or fewer hours, by car or truck.
Plaza El Segundo Farmers Market
This little farmers market takes place every Wednesday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the parking lot in front of Whole Foods. Check out the berries, breads and dried fruits.
Manhattan Beach Farmers Market
Each Tuesday from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. (11 to 5 in the summer), downtown Manhattan Beach’s Metlox Plaza (13th Street and Morningside Drive) becomes a large outdoor farmers market, with fruit and vegetable growers and hot food stands.
El Segundo Farmers Market
Many of the same local growers who frequent Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach show up for the longstanding El Segundo Farmer’s Market on Main Street in the middle of downtown. The market runs Thursdays from 3 p.m. until 7 p.m.
Hermosa Beach Farmers Market
Every Friday afternoon from noon until 4 p.m., locals visit this farmers market on Valley Drive at 11th Street.
Bristol Farms is an upscale (i.e. expensive) grocery chain with several stores throughout Southern California. Its local roots make it committed to local growers, and you will find the freshest of fruits and vegetables mixed in among more common products that you could find at other grocery chains.
If you have an elementary school child going to a South Bay public school that participates in the Growing Great gardening program, watch for twice yearly after-school sales of produce the students have grown in their school gardens. It doesn’t get any more local than that.