Sunday, August 21, 2005

The Alemany Farmer's Market - San Francisco

Established 1943
Alemany Farmers Market,100 Alemany Blvd, 101 Saturdays, 6AM-6PM

photograph picture of some blueberries from Rainbow Orchards at the Alemany farmers market in San Francisco

Mountain Grown Blueberries from Rainbow Orchards, Camino, Ca.

photograph picture of the Alemany farmers market in San Francisco

Because I was on the South side of town, doing some breakfast research for my Be Rachael Ray for the Day Challenge, I asked my Bernal Heights friend, Penny, if she would guide me on my first visit to San Francisco's oldest farmers market, established in 1943, in nearby Alemany.

The Farmer's Market is generally recognized as the greatest single contribution to the betterment of the relationship between the City of San Francisco and rural areas.

You can read more here about the history of Alemany Farmers Market. Although the emphasis at Alemany is not on organic, sustainable agriculture like at the Ferry Building Market, you can be sure that Alemany is supporting small, local farms. I would guess that only about 20%, or less, of the stalls were selling organic produce, but there was a wide variety of both common and unusual vegetables for sale nonetheless. I even bought some rice paddy plant leaves! Sorrel was only 50 cents a bunch ($2 at the Ferry Buidling). Alemany definitely seems to be a cheap, lively and interesting place to shop.

photograph picture of the Alemany farmers market in San Francisco

Banana Dates. Taste just like their name would suggest. Full of Fibre, and less sweet when eaten before they are totally ripe. They pucker your mouth up. Our conclusion: "Interesting".

photograph picture of the Alemany farmers market East West GOurmet Foods

After trying a few Indian nibbles at this East & West Gourmet Foods stall coming from the Concord area, I had to make a few purchases. Now I am the proud owner of some spicy, delicious chilli jam, garlic mint cheese and spinach bolani. Somehow, I don't think they will last too long.

photograph picture of some chickens

Want to see where your eggs are coming from? Here is the evidence. I spotted this truck, next to an egg stand, just outside of the regular market. The chickens don't look like they have quite the same freedom as Marin Sun Farms...

Locavores August Eat Local Challenge 2005

PS - I liked the Alemany market, but not as much as the Ferry Building Market. Sure, most of the produce is much cheaper, but a lot of it isn't organically grown. The advantage of the Ferry Building is also that I can get everything I need in one place: meat, charcuterie, cheese, dairy, chocolate, etc. After a morning at Alemany I would still need journey elsewhere for fresh meat and dairy produce.

Archive Alert! On this date in 2004 we were in the midst of the Olympic Games, do you remember? In honour of the event I hosted a Greek Feast for 19 friends.

posted in and and and
The Alemany Farmer's Market - San Francisco


  • At 21/8/05 09:28, Blogger Tana Butler said…

    Hi, Sam, good report. I know people who love Alemany, and prefer it to Ferry Plaza because the prices are lower...and they also seem to resent the yuppie crowd (or whatever they want to label affluent people) at FP. But my friend, Steve Sando (aka "Rancho Gordo) sells at Ferry Plaza on Saturday at the Marin market on Sunday. He has mentioned many times that a lot of the produce at Alemany is sold by people who buy it at warehouses. Their only connection to the food they're selling is that they have a truck and a drivers license.

    If I lived in SF, I would probably attend both markets--because I love shopping at farmers markets, of course. Luckily, I live in Santa Cruz: our prices are about 1/4 or 1/3 less for the identical produce from the same farmers. Prices even vary here a little from market to market: eggplant might be $1.60 a pound on Thursday at Capitola, and $2 on Sunday at the East Cliff market. That's just how the markets work: "see what the market will bear," so to speak.

    Thanks for the report, and for your interesting write-ups of the Eat Local Challenge in your life.

    Your Local Farm Geek

  • At 21/8/05 10:11, Blogger Amy Sherman said…

    Given the strict relatively recent guidelines for being "certified organic" I know some farmers lost their organic designation, but for all practical purposes are still truly organic, just not "certified". I wonder how many Alemany vendors fall into that category.

  • At 21/8/05 10:25, Blogger Sam said…

    I think Tana is probably closer to the truth with the warehouse theory in some instances.

    I asked a couple of places which were more obviously local farmers.
    They told me straight - no we are not organic.

    The ones that are obviously organic, state it clearly at their stalls, there are only a handful of those scattered throughout the market.

  • At 21/8/05 10:49, Blogger Jennifer Maiser said…

    I may be an old cynic, but the blueberries are suspiscious to me. The other markets haven't had blueberries for almost two months.

    I need to make it down there sometime soon - I haven't gone to that market in years.

  • At 21/8/05 11:19, Blogger Sam said…

    Jen - here is another picture - I didn't actually talk to them or ask them any questions. They were only selling blueberries.

  • At 21/8/05 13:48, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Those blueberries make the fruit from my two little plants bought in May look feeble. Still I had several dozen berries which I suppose is not bad for 1st yr.

  • At 21/8/05 14:25, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    hi sam. i went to the alemany farmers' market for the first time, 2 weeks ago. i don't get out much on saturdays because i normally work. it was much better than the farmers' market i normally go to, which is the one at the Serramonte mall parking lot, on Thursday mornings. At Serramonte, there is only 1 certified organic vendor, and their produce is not very good at all. i wish i could go to the alemany's fm every week. i'd probably die of shock and delight if i ever got to the one at the ferry building.

  • At 21/8/05 14:31, Blogger Sam said…

    mum - good to see you are joining in the eat local challenge too!

    dexygus - if you do ever make it to the Ferry Building, the prices would likely send you into some kind of shock, that's for sure.

    It's great though - I hope you'll be able to make it one day.

  • At 21/8/05 15:48, Blogger Greg said…

    I too am being a cynic. I think those chickens are bound for more than an egg laying future.I prefer to stay beyond the feather removal part of the food chain.

  • At 21/8/05 16:43, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Excellent post on one of my favorite farmers markets. I live really close to the Alemany market, so I often shop there (sometimes, when I feel really ambitious, I stop there and then continue on to the Ferry Plaza market). Although I too prefer the Ferry Plaza market for its abundance of organic produce, there are things (besides the lower prices) that I really like about the Alemany market. It's the best market for finding fresh ingredients for preparing southeast Asian, Indian, Chinese and Latino dishes. I've bought herbs and vegetables there that I've never seen at the Ferry Plaza market. Although some sellers may be selling goods from a warehouse, the majority are truly local farmers.

    I found it takes a little longer (more than one visit) to get to know the Alemany market. One of the hidden gems I've discovered there is Nash. He sells buttery olive oil and extremely free-range eggs that I prefer to Marin Sun's. If you don't bring your own egg cartons, Nash will pack the eggs in a brown paper bag padded with straw (in the past, I've also seen Nash at the Ferry Plaza market on Tuesdays).

  • At 22/8/05 05:12, Blogger Ruth Daniels said…

    I too love markets and Alemany sounds (and looks) awesome. I'll be sure to put it on my list of places to visit when in San Francisco. Is it open all year?

  • At 22/8/05 07:22, Blogger Sam said…

    greg - the chickens were on a piece of wasteland just outside the market - they weren't part of the main thing. Though I did also see Duck Balut for sale in the market.

    Brett - I absolutely agree with you that this market would need time to get to know. If one person made an impression on me - then it was Nash. I didn't need any eggs or olive oil, otherwise I would have bought something from him. My friend bought some of his olives.

    AG - we are so lucky having so many markets around here!

    Ruth - I am pretty sure it is open every week - i'ts been open since 1943 after all!

  • At 23/8/05 12:59, Blogger Jennifer Maiser said…

    Nash - yes, he is at the Ferry Plaza on Tuesdays. He is the one who I talked about here ... really lovely eggs.

  • At 26/8/05 10:48, Blogger Pille said…

    Great story! I'm quite curious about the banana dates now. Don't really like dates, but love bananas - so maybe I'd like these? Who knows..
    And I like the blueberry pictures - whether they're in season or not, these are one of my favourite berries (though, curiously, the ones we get in Tesco in Edinburgh are white inside and not blue??)

  • At 1/12/07 15:53, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Hi, I know this is an old post but I am an Alemany Farmer's Market regular and I just want to set the record straight. A couple of years ago I did some research about this farmers market and during that time I spoke with the manager of the market. All of the farmers are absoloutely only selling produce they grow--it is not from a wharehouse. There are strict regulations in place to ensure that the farmers are not even selling produce from neighboring farms, only their own produce. If you learn about the history of this farmers market you will learn that the markets founder, John Brucato, explictly created the market so that it would cut out the middle man and farmers could sell direct to consumers. Just wanted to quell any fears dispel myths--Alemany farmers market is not selling produce from a wharehouse! The produce is direct from the farmer. Thanks.

  • At 1/12/07 16:06, Blogger Sam said…

    thanks for the info sojourner. I try to write accurate posts, but when it comes to the comments of others I can't be sure of their research so it is interesting to get different sides of a story. Cheers and thanks for stopping by.

  • At 12/11/08 10:26, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    GOOd job


Post a Comment

<< Home