2011 DC Farmers Markets

We love our DC farmers markets. We love our VA farmers markets.

The DC metro area has an incredible amount of markets and has one of the highest people/markets ratios. This means their plenty of them available to you every day (except Monday) and they are open in the mornings, during your lunch break, or in the evenings.

DC Farmers Markets

-

Fridays

USDA People’s Garden – 10-2pm – Jun to Oct
12th/Independence Ave – Smithsonian Metro

-

Saturdays

14th & U St – 9-1pm – May to Nov
14th/U St – U St/Cardozo Metro

Glover Park – 9-1pm – May to Oct
Hardy Middle School – Wisconsin/34th St

Ward 8 – 9-2pm – Jun to Nov
THEARC – 1901 Mississippi Ave SE

Adams Morgan – 9-1pm – Apr to Dec
18th/Columbia, NW

Silver Spring – 9-1pm – Apr to Dec
951 Ellsworth Dr – Silver Spring Metro

H Street – 9-12pm – Apr to Nov
625 H St, NE – Union Station Metro, (5 blocks away)

Chevy Chase – 9-1pm – Apr to Nov
Broad Branch Rd/N Hampton St, NW

Bethesda – 9-1pm – May to Oct
Norfolk Ave at Veteran’s Park, Bethesda Station Metro

Eastern Market – 7-6pm – all year
225 7th ST, SE – Eastern Market Metro

-

Sundays

Dupont - 8:30-1pm – all year
1500 20th St – Dupont Metro

Eastern Market – 9-5pm – all year
225 7th ST, SE – Eastern Market Metro

Bloomingdale – 10-2pm – May to Nov
1st/R St, NW – Shaw/NY Metro

Takoma Park – 10-2pm – all year
Carroll/Laurel Ave – Takoma Park Metro

-

Mondays

None

-

Tuesdays

New Morning – 4-8pm – Jun to Sep
36th/Alton Place – Sheridan School

-

Wednesdays

Foggy Bottom – 3-7pm – Apr to Nov
Foggy Bottom Metro – 2400 I St/New Hampshire

Health and Human Services – 11-2pm – May to Oct
200 Independence Ave, SW – Federal Center Metro

Crossroads – 3-7pm – May to Oct
7676 New Hampshire Ave, NW, Takoma Park

-

Thursdays

Penn Quarter – 3-7pm – Mar to Dec
8th St, NW, between D/E St – Chinatown Metro

White House – 3-7pm – May to Oct
810 Vermont Ave, NW – McPherson Sq Metro

-

VA Farmers Markets

-

Fridays

McLean - 8-12pm – May to Nov
1659 Chain Bridge Rd – Lewinsville Pk

-

Saturdays

Arlington Market at Courthouse – 8-12pm – all year
Courthouse Metro (1 block south)

Old Town Alexandria – 5-11am – all year
Market Square/City Hall, 301 King St
*(free parking in Market Sq garage during market)

Del Ray Alexandria – 8-12pm – all year
East Oxford & Mount Vernon Ave

Vienna – 8-12pm – May to Oct
131 Church St

-

Sundays

West End Alexandria – 9-1pm – May to Nov
4800 Brenman Park Drive

Columbia Pike – 9-1pm – all year
Pike Park in front of Rite Aid, South Walter Reed/Columbia Pike

Mondays

None

-

Tuesdays

Crystal City – 3-7pm – May to Nov
Crystal Drive – 18 to 20th St

-

Wednesdays

King Street Alexandria – 3-7pm – May to Oct
1806 King Street, King St Metro

Clarendon – 3-7pm – all year
Clarendon Metro

-

Thursdays

Rosslyn – 11-3pm – May to Oct
Wilson Blvd/N. Oak St – Rosslyn Metro

Ballston – 3-7pm – May to Oct
Wellburn Square, 9th/N. Stuart, 1 block south Ballston Metro

**photo by Clara S.**

Tips for the Farmers Market Diet

It’s farmers market season and everyone is feeling the pull toward the street markets. Shopping at them can be confusing and overwhelming. To help you get through the season happier, healthier, and with more money in your pocket, here are some tips.

Cost

Every newbie to the markets talks about cost. I call it the supermarket hangover. They have trouble understanding why they should pay more. Isn’t food at the supermarket and the farmers market the same?

Definitely not. The supermarket food is priced correctly, cheap because it is cheap food. It has low levels of nutrients, vitamins, and other essential health elements. Which results in shoppers buying 2-3 times more than they need to and all of the weight problems associated with it.

Farmers markets food is high quality, or it can be. The point of these markets is to get you food when it is of the highest quality (fresh, in season, ripe). If done right you will find yourself eating much less food and the smaller amounts should help your budget and your waistline!

Fake Farmers Markets

I always try to warn folks about the fake farmers markets. You can easily spot a fake market by looking for the fruit and vegetable stands. The best markets have a good assortment of fruit/vegetables compared to everything else (bakers, cheese, meat). The worst markets have a surplus of dessert vendors and folks selling meat, bread, and cheese.

Now I have nothing against meat, bread, and cheese. I buy my fair share at the market. The problem is with markets who make no effort to balance their offerings. Folks need to be able to find healthy delicious fruits and vegetables, beyond the loaves of bread and steaks.

Foggy-Bottom-Farmers-Market-brocolli-radish-DCAnother type of fake farmers markets are those with no standards. Places that allow folks to buy from supermarkets or wholesalers and offer them at the market for a mark-up. Places like this really make me angry since they are using the market prestige to swindle customers.

Typical markets are “producer only” which means that farmers can only sell what they grow. To figure out if your market is producer only you can look it up on their website, ask the market manager or the vendors, look for/read their signs. In fact, you want to shop at the places with more signs and more transparency. A good rule is that if they aren’t telling you then don’t trust them.

The Back-up Store

You love farmers markets but it’s monday and no markets are open on monday. Stayed late at work or slept in. It happens to the best of us. Here are a few options for supplementing your farmers market diet.

Get to know the bulk foods in the bins at your local health food stores. They are often the freshest, cheapest, and healthiest items in the whole store. I regularly buy rice, beans, and nuts at my local store.

Another, but more limited option, is the local food at supermarkets. Stores like Whole Foods and Mom’s Organic Market tend to carry a few local items. Usually greens and mushrooms. Which can make for a great salad especially after a slight saute and some balsamic vinegar. They also offer local eggs and milk.

Finally, look around for your local food coop. These are community formed grocery stores that allow you to choose what they stock. Many of them are locavore havens but not all. If you happen to have one close, join-up, get the member discount, and make sure they know how much you love local foods!

PS – my local coop is the TPSS coop :)

photo by mastermaq

The Nearly Vegetarian Diet

I have been struggling with this post for a few days now. How to tell the story of the nearly vegetarian diet?

Should I start with protein fear? Studies show that vegetarians get just as much protein as meat eaters. In fact, they get their protein in a far superior way, without all the added fat, cholesterol, heart health issues, and possibly even cancer. Despite these well established and respected facts the protein fear lingers.

Maybe I should focus on the government corruption angle. Did you know that the Food Pyramid and Farm Bill directly cater to meat and dairy? The Pyramid tells us all to eat 3 hamburgers a day and drink 3 glasses of milk every day. Seriously, the government recommends that half of our diet consist of meat and dairy.

The Farm Bill, one of our most important pieces of legislation, directly subsidizes that meat and dairy, to the tune of billions of dollars. Explains how a cheeseburger can cost $.99 while a carrot will be $1.50. The situation in Washington DC is so bad that only recently did fruits, vegetables, and nuts make it into the Farm Bill under the category, “specialty foods”.

Another angle that just makes me angry are the ad jingles. Have you heard of “Got Milk” or “Where’s the Beef” or any of the 100s of other marketing slogans? These have been so successful that they are now accepted as truth. A quick look at recent studies show that drinking milk can actually remove calcium from the body and eating meat every day can cause serious health issues. I am really not sure how to help everyone break through the cloud of ad jingles that now hangs over us.

I guess the most important thing I to say is that eating a vegetarian diet is far superior in every way to any other diet on the planet. It is an undisputed fact based on health, nutrition, and scientific research. Heck, its even better for the environment, preventing pollution and helping to stop climate change. Even more, one could switch over to vegetarianism and spend less money of food while getting a perfect body. Again, these are undisputed facts, which often makes me stop and wonder why are so many avoiding this diet?

Even with that said I still eat some meat, because I’m a nearly vegetarian. I like eating meat and sometimes I crave it. Studies explain this through a vitamin called B-12 that is only found in animal products. We need just a bit of it every once in a while.

I think that neatly explains my diet. I eat a little bit of meat every once in a while. The rest of the time I love eating fruits, vegetables, and reap the wonderous health benefits they provide.

So why isn’t everyone else doing so?

photo by Manjith Kaini

Beach Water Quality in Southern California

It just so happens that three of the top ten worst beaches in California are two that I frequented in college and the third is an island 22 miles off the coast. The list is rounded out by LA County taking up half the list and San Diego, Orange, and San Francisco Counties only having one “dirty-ass beach”.

I found this report from Heal the Bay thanks to a tip from the LATimes.

These worst of the worst beaches are so named due to risk of “potential illness (to) include stomach flu, ear infection, respiratory infection, and major skin rash”. Which can result after only a one-time exposure on a single day. Going in the water more than once can “significantly increase” your chances.

The good news is that 90% of the beaches in California came in with a A or B grade. Only 13 beaches completely failed with an F. It seems that the majority of the dirty beaches problems arise only during wet weather. During dry conditions the grades are better with 92% scoring and A/B.

The report says that stormwater runoff is the major culprit. Which just so happens to be the place where kids like to play. I agree with the kids it is the ‘funnest’ place on the beach, if the waves are not hitting.

The worst place for this runoff turns out be Avalon Harbor which is 22 miles out in the ocean on Catalina Island. This seems counter-intuitive but the facts don’t lie, Avalon has been the worst beach in the state 9 out of the past 11 years.

Five others on the list from LA County including two of my old haunts the Santa Monica Pier and where Sunset Blvd hits PCH. Since the county is sorely in need of improvement it is good news to hear that the California budget foibles are minimally affecting LA’s programs.

A few quick other details about LA County. There were five sewage spills into county beaches, with the largest being larger than 100,000 gallons (into Lunada Bay). The county is the only county in the state to measure water quality at point zero, or pipe outlet, which allows for a more accurate picture of pollution. Most counties grab their data lower down the line after the pollution has been diluted.

Orange County, on the surface, appears to be doing well with 96% of its beaches making the grade (A/B). Only one beach, Poche Beach, getting a failing grade. However, during the few wet weather periods when measurements were taken only 42% of the beaches had A/B grades. The old advice is definitely still holding out “never go in the water after a rain”.

Also of note is Dana Point’s Baby Beach, a location that has been given a consistent failing grade in the past, will no longer be monitored.

As the county faces the same budget troubles as LA County they are making positive steps to improve. Which include unifying the county agencies responsible for monitoring the water quality, eliminating redundant measurements, and dropping consistently clean locations to focus on the dirtier spots.

Steps like these are needed to ensure that what’s happening in San Diego doesn’t spread to the rest of the state. San Diego County has seventeen sewage spills, a top worst beach, and has to continually deal with the pollution coming out of Tiajuana (the Tiajuana Slough).

Only time will tell how our beaches fare during the budget crisis, but the writing is clear. Counties are on their own. I guess so are beach goers…

Read the full report (84 pg PDF).

*all photos from the Heal the Bay full report*