Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food

by Anthony Chang

I love our Farmers’ Market.  Local, organic produce is abundant.  For me, there is a real sense of community — I know vendors by name and I run into neighbors at the market every Sunday.  We are very lucky to have such a breadth of vendors — I can do almost all of my weekly grocery shopping at the market: fruits, vegetables, bread, cheese, eggs, meat, fish, tofu, cookies and sweets.

One of the more unique aspects of our market is the presence of three sustainable meat vendors — Pampero Ranch selling grass-fed beef and whole free-range chickens and eggs; TLC Ranch offering pasture-raised pork, lamb, and free-range eggs; and Hain Ranch Organics providing free-range, organic chicken and eggs.  Many markets don’t have any meat vendors, and it is rare to have such breadth and variety. After recently chatting with them, I had a chance to learn more about each of them beyond the delicious products they sell.  Across the board, they enjoy coming to our market every Sunday, because of the diversity and busyness and the opportunity to not only sell food, but to connect their customers to a more sustainably and humanely raised way of eating.

Pampero Ranch

Jim has been selling grass fed longhorn beef at the Mountain View farmers’ market for about 3 years.  While working full-time as an engineer and raising two young children with his wife, Jim raises and sells grass-fed beef as a labor of love.  It started with a trip to Argentina that changed his palate for beef and a desire to address the inhumane way most cattle is treated in the U.S. Now Jim spends his weekend mornings happily chatting up market customers (most of whom he knows by name and their preferred cut or steak) about different cuts of beef and how to best cook them, with a splash of friendly education supported by his books and posters that let us all know more about our food.

TLC Ranch

Although Jim and Rebecca own TLC Ranch and do the heavy lifting to raise their animals beyond organic practices, Loren has been their “farmers’ market dude” at our market for the past year.  Given his main gig doing BBQ catering as the “Rib King,” Loren offers keen cooking advice while hawking the pasture raised chops, bacon and other pork products offered by TLC Ranch. One of my favorite things about TLC Ranch is their “open farm days” — my daughter and I drove down there a couple months ago to meet Rebecca and Jim in person, understand more about where our food comes from and to run around with the heritage breed piglets and free-range laying hens.

Hain Ranch Organics

Paul is a fourth-generation farmer and steward of Hain Ranch Organics. He has been a farmer all his life and knows that he doesn’t want to get bigger, he just wants to serve his customers better. With this kind of wisdom and care, Paul has been bringing his free-range, organic chicken to our market for three years.  Although he welcomes visitors to the walnut orchard where he raises his chickens and egg-laying hens and manages the land in a very environmentally sustainable way a la Joel Salatin (featured in Michael Pollan’s Ominvore’s Dilemma), Paul enjoys coming to the hustle and bustle of our diverse market, in part for the opportunity to demystify the chopping, prepping and cooking of whole chickens.

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