Santa Monica's farmers markets act local, provide global

With the delightful combination of fresh strawberries in the air and the distinctive scent of bittersweet oranges, the Santa Monica farmers market is one sweet place to be.

Farmers markets serve as venues where eco-conscious produce-buyers can buy locally and organically grown fruits, vegetables and a wide variety of hand-made products.

Various markets are held all over Los Angeles Country, from the northern San Fernando Valley to downtown Los Angeles. However, Santa Monica is the only locale that is home to four farmers markets all within a 10-mile radius of each other.

On Wednesdays, the farmers market at Arizona Avenue and Second Street kicks off the beginning of the week. This market focuses on exotic produce from around the world and is located a block away from the ocean, attracting many tourists . It does seems to be a bit pricier than the others.

Mary Brickner, who is a proud vegetarian and has been a patron of farmers markets for the past ten years, is obsessed with the different types of berries at the market. "I always have to come back every Wednesday to restock on them due to the fact I eat them almost everyday," said Brickner.

Brickner, who soon hopes to open up her own stand at the farmers market, plans to take the different types of fruits and berries she buys from the market and open up a stand selling baked goods using what she purchases.

On Saturdays, the farmers market on Virginia Avenue showcases similar produce but exudes a much more "shopper friendly" environment. From Mexican food to organic produce, shopping at the 2200 Virginia Ave. is a more social environment than Wednesday's market.

For excellent fruit, the stand of Harry "The Grape Guy," as he is referred to, has the most consistently phenomenal red, seedless grapes.

Also on Saturday, the farmers market on Arizona Avenue and Third Street offers a few different features. While being almost the same as the Virginia Avenue Farmers Market with their selection of organically grown produce, they do not offer much hot food. However, they do offer a variety of freshly cut meat, which is something most markets in Santa Monica do not offer.

"When someone thinks of organic, they naturally think of vegetables but meat can be organic too," said Brian Aguilar.

Aguilar, who is a student at UCLA, recently started shopping at farmers markets because he heard from his friends that they were cheaper. More importantly to Aguilar, he was told hot girls dig guys that shop at the farmers market. "A guy has got to keep up with the times," he said.

Besides being partly a place to pick up chicks (women, that is) the market on Arizona Avenue is similar to Wednesday's market in that it is mostly useful to local citizens just looking to pick up their groceries.

Looking for the most entertaining market to shop? Then Sunday's market is the best to visit. From great French cuisine to live jazz music out on the garden, this location is the best to unwind from a busy week while enjoying your organically grown food.

Unlike the other markets, the Sunday market on Main Street and Ocean Park Boulevard is more of a family-friendly market, gearing many of their activities toward children. To entice more families to participate in the spirit of the farmers market on Main Street, the city has included numerous activities in which children can participate. From face painting to balloon art and even a chance to ride miniature ponies in a roundabout, families can spend countless hours at the festival before it ends at 1 p.m.

Whether you're a person who obsesses over specific types of oranges, craves organically grown ingredients in your Mexican food, or even just wants to find someone special who also happens to eat right, the Santa Monica farmers markets are here for your many needs.