Ask the Chef 

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Honorary Texan: Chef Boy Ari

Dear Chef Boy Ari,

Is there a farmer’s market in San Antonio? I moved here three years ago from Olympia, Washington, where there is a weekend farmer’s market which was very reliable for fresh local fruits, veggies, fish, poultry, beef preserves, honey, etc. I was wondering if San Antonio had anything similar. I’ve looked online and found nothing to indicate that there is a farmer’s market in San Antonio. Anyway, hopefully this is something you can help me with!

Sincerely,

Produce Curious

 

Dear PC,

The fact that I have absolutely no idea about the San Antonio farmers market scene corners me into making a painful disclosure: I live in Missoula, Montana.

My column, “Flash in the Pan,” is syndicated around the western United States, including the San Antonio Current, whose fabulous editor usually puts in a byline explaining something to the effect that I’m an honorary Texan. When occasionally that byline doesn’t make it in, I get quite a few questions from San Antonio. It’s rather impressive, actually. Sometimes I get more questions from San Antonio than Missoula — a testament to the active readers of the Current. This one guy, for example, wrote me hoping I’d tell him my favorite Thai restaurant in SA to get curry duck, and I didn’t even have the balls to write him back and tell him the truth. But your question blew some kind of duty-bound valve in my gut, and forced me out of the closet.

In my opinion, one of the most important things that I do is send out encouragement and advice to my readers in hopes of helping them pursue sources of local food, be it through gardening, hunting, shopping at stores that stock local foods, or buying directly from farmers. And even though I’m writing from Missoula, this is a message that’s just as important in San Antone, Olympia, East Bekistan, or wherever. Farmers markets are one of the cornerstones of a healthy local food system, as well as great places to engage your community. Who needs organic certification when you can simply talk to the farmer and ask him or her how they grow their food?

The aforementioned fabulous editor of the Current provided me with the following link to the San Antonio section of the Pick Texas web page, which lists quite a few “Farmers Markets” in San Antonio. The reason for the quotes around “Farmers Markets” is some so-called “farmers markets” are simply produce stands where vendors sell food they’ve purchased elsewhere. So it’s possible that some of the Pick Texas listings might be faux-farmers markets, but it’s a good start:

Picktexas.com/farm_market/santon.htm

Another good resource is Localharvest.org. This website contains a database of farmers markets, farms, Community Supported Agriculture (where you purchase a membership at a farm that entitles you to weekly deliveries of produce throughout the growing season), and restaurants, stores, and co-ops that use local foods. According to Local Harvest, there are 15 “Farmers Markets” around San Antonio. Again, some might be better than others, but hunting them down might make for a good way to get to know your new city.

And remember, this time of year, real farmers markets are often a great source of seedlings, which you can purchase, bring home, and plant in your own garden.

If anyone out there knows about any good farmers markets around San Antonio, or has any useful farmers-market stories, please send them my way. And if anyone knows any good Thai restaurants around town where they serve a good curry duck, please let me know so I can write this other guy back.

And by the way, PC, what the heck are “beef preserves”? 


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