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Budget-Friendly Foodertainment

It may not be as trendy as it used to be, but I LOVE farmer’s markets. Everywhere I go, I try to find one. Recently, I found a market in New Orleans with stone-ground grits, Creole tomato jam, and great juice combos like beet-lemonade and watermelon-lime. I love to watch the people, learn about new local foods, and think about all the possibilities that the foods available hold. Of course, this could just be another excuse to think about food.

Here in Northern California, we have a plethora of farmer’s markets–practically one every day of the week in Sacramento. Even though I know a lot of the local foods, I always find something new to try. It’s also a great way to spend a weekend morning with my daughter. The Davis Farmer’s Market, in particular, is one of our favorites. When my husband used to work on Saturdays, my daughter and I would go every weekend (barring rain). Held in the Davis Central Park at 4th and C Streets, it’s a full entertainment package.

Not only can you get your produce for the week (organic! local!), but you can listen to musicians, sign uber-liberal political ballots, pet dogs and cats, eat fantastic tamales and popsicles, and–if you’re under eight or so–ride a bicycle-powered carousel with hand-carved wooden animals. You can buy plant starts for your garden, olive oil, jam, eggs, meat, and gifty things like baby onesies and pottery. There are two playground areas for kid entertainment, coffee for adult entertainment, and scrumptious baked goods like super-sticky cinnamon buns. The nearby California Bicycle Museum is in the building with the ATM and bathrooms that you’ll likely need. There are many theme days as well. We especially like Pig Day, when you can pet piglets and eat pig-shaped bread pops.

We easily spend several hours there, especially on sunny days. Some may argue that it’s more expensive than the Sacramento markets, but it’s LESS expensive than San Francisco’s Ferry Plaza Market and closer. I love to take out-of-town visitors, who are amazed by the gorgeous produce at all times of the year, and it’s pretty cheap as long as you don’t buy too many of those addictive pastries.

So, in both my quest to educate my daughter about nutritious, delicious foods and to find inexpensive entertainment, the Davis market answers both needs. I’m certainly not against the Sacramento markets. I love the Cesar Chavez Wednesday market, when it starts in May, but we’re really a year-round growing area, so even the less glamorous winter produce is great to see and taste. And the W/X market, while perhaps cheaper and year-round, is a bit dank and grim under the freeway. Plus, you have to cross the street to entertain the kids at the playground, and there aren’t usually many prepared foods available.

As with anything, it’s all in what you need out of something that determines how much you like it. So you’ll see me in Davis most sunny Saturday mornings! The market runs 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. year-round and on Wednesdays as well, 2 to 6 p.m., from November to March.


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