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Amelia Saltsman leads a tour at the downtown Santa Monica farmers’ market where she shares her insider tips and favorite farmers.
Courtesy Photo
Amelia Saltsman leads a tour at the downtown Santa Monica farmers’ market where she shares her insider tips and favorite farmers.

News, Farmers Market, Santa Monica, Food

New Santa Monica Farmers' Market Tour Makes A Ripe Debut

Posted Aug. 6, 2013, 9:24 am

Anne Nagamoto / Mirror Contributor

Whether you’re new to the Santa Monica farmers’ markets or a market regular, Amelia Saltsman can open your eyes and show you more of what your farmers’ market has to offer.

A writer, cookbook author, and longtime farmers’ market champion, Saltsman has been shopping the Wednesday downtown Santa Monica market long enough to see the farmers’ children and grandchildren grow up to become farmers themselves.

She wrote “The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook” and is a frequent guest on the weekly Good Food show on local NPR radio station KCRW.  

Saltsman has begun leading tours of the Wednesday downtown Santa Monica farmers’ market, the cradle of all local farmers’ markets.

She says she’s been giving private tours for her friends and decided to open up her tours to the public. Her first public tour was on July 17, and The Mirror was invited to come along.

The group of 11 people gathered at 9 am at the market’s heart, the busy intersection of 2nd Street and Arizona.

From there, Saltsman led the group on a beeline to the first stop, Wong’s Farm from the Coachella Valley, hurrying so the group won’t miss out on the Valencia Pride desert mangoes that usually sell out by 9 am.

These mangos are extraordinary, she says, available for only a very short period, and if they’re sold out you must sign up on the list for next week’s haul.

Saltsman points out the day’s other market highlights, including the fact it’s the last day for Blenheim apricots from See Canyon.

“Don’t ask questions, just buy them,” she says.

She points out it’s the first day here for a new stand, The Garden Of..., a Santa Ynez farm that’s known for great lettuce.

“Today they’ve brought corn – the old fashioned corn of your childhood, with real corn flavor,” she says. “I’m excited about seeing yellow corn, because we’re seeing too much corn that’s just plain sweet, corn that’s grown to be just sweet. No, you want complex flavor. When you cook with ingredients that have complex flavor, it’ll be really easy.”

She shows the group her favorite farmers and some of her favorite produce, like Jerry Rutiz’s Chantenay carrots and Coastal Farms’ tomatoes.

She tells them how she uses the produce, which ones she’ll can, which ones she’ll make into sauce, which ones she’ll use in salad.

She also gives her views on organic farming, and the differences between the many farmers’ markets in town.

With each stop her excitement grows even more contagious. She tells the group to rely on their own senses – “Look! Touch! Smell!” – as their guide, try samples, and get to know the farmers.

“The whole point of the farmers’ market is having direct interaction with the farmers,” she says.

She says farmers can grow for different factors like long storage life, shippability, sugar content, and uniform size. Some farmers grow for flavor first, and those are the ones to look for at the farmers’ market.

Amelia Saltsman’s next Wednesday downtown Santa Monica Farmers’ Market tour will be on Wednesday, Aug. 21. Admission is $45 per person and groups are kept small. 

For more information, visit

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Aug. 7, 2013, 8:39:59 pm

robert wemischner said...

Isnt Amelia amazing! She knows the inside scoop on the farmers, on what they sell when and how to use it; she has kindly taken my Professional Baking students from Trade Tech numerous imes on tours of the market and I always learn something new!!!!

Aug. 6, 2013, 10:10:56 am

Kim said...

Well this was obviously a paid advertisement. $45 bucks?? Can you not walk around a farmer's market on your own and save $45 bucks? My god I hope there is no one gullible enough to pay that. By the way, Santa Monica's farmer's market is pretty lame compared to some of the others nearby. You can get better produce and prices if you go outside :the tourist trap".....

Aug. 10, 2013, 9:24:46 am

Connie Najah said...

We loved this tour! We walked away with so much knowledge on local farmers and why they were chosen for this market, but also inspiration! Not just because we loved the taste of the produce but because Amelia helped teach us to use all our senses to choose the best. And with helpful tips on storage and best buying seasons, etc, I feel more confident. Child friendly too!

Aug. 30, 2013, 7:27:32 am

Susie Thum said...

I had the pleasure of this tour as well. It is about far more than where to buy what produce and when. I was introduced to products I would not usually buy. I met the market farmers and learned about their practices, including crop rotations. I learned ways to use all parts of the produce I was buying. I learned about interesting ways to serve some of the produce. Who would think to dip baby radishes in butter! I loved this experience and would go again....So much to know.

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