Food for Thought
A closer look at the dollar-per-calorie
ratio found at the farmers’ market.
We are so lucky to live in
a climate where we can grow
our own food or, better yet,
live close to so many great
farmers who will do it for us.
READING KIER HOLMES’S Garden article on DIY farming took me down a well-trodden memory lane. Have you ever served up a salad fresh from your garden?
I’ll tell you from experience that it feels about
as heady as saying, “Yeah, I rode my bike to
work.” For me it’s like I’m aligning my actions
with my intentions — also known as doing
what feels right.
I get that same feel-good buzz as I browse the
stands of the Agricultural Institute of Marin
(AIM)’s Civic Center Sunday farmers’ market.
We are so lucky to live in a climate where we can
grow our own food or, better yet, live close to so
many great farmers who will do it for us.
I don’t easily part with my hard-earned
dollars. But knowing that the farmers have
done the heavy lifting here, that I am not the
one who tended the crops and battled wily
garden invaders, I don’t mind spending $10
for a dozen jumbo eggs or $40 for an abundant assortment of greens from County Line
Farms, and thank God Brickmaiden Breads
takes a credit card because I don’t want to see
how much I’m spending there.
I recently ran into AIM director Andy
Naja-Riese and he gave me a stat that made me
feel even better. “Ninety percent of your dollar
does directly to the farmers,” he told me. At a
typical grocery store, that number is closer to
17 percent. So, when I’m making an egg salad
for my daughter — with crunchy, fresh lettuce
and shavings of fennel and arugula from the
aforementioned County Line Farms; a dusting
of feta, almond slivers and seasonal veggies
from various other booths; and one of those
jumbo eggs on top — I feel satisfied that I’ve
done my best to feed my kid before she heads
out for a day where not everything else is
wholesome and healthy.
I became acutely aware of the value of such
homemade goodness about a decade ago at the
then-new farmers market in Tam Valley. I
needed to pick up one daughter at Miwok
Stables, so I let my 7-year-old hit the Tam
market with a $10 bill to get a roasted chicken
and possibly some of that good naan bread for
dinner. When I pulled into the lot on my way
back from Miwok, she was empty-handed,
frustrated that I’d sent her out underfunded.
“So embarrassing, mom.”
I think about that math almost every week
I was flummoxed. More than $10!? Costco
had (and still has) pretty tasty roasted birds for
less than five. And then, I thought about it. At
the time, we had been making our own foray
into chicken-raising. We couldn’t seem to keep
them alive or even inside our own yard. And it
took months for that loud, cackly brood to actu-
ally produce eggs. (See our story “All Cooped
Up” in this issue to learn how Marinites today
are embracing this poultry-rearing trend.) I
started to realize it’s actually pretty amazing
it only costs about $15 for someone else to raise
a chicken, fatten it up, prepare it with spices,
roast it on a spit for three-and-a-half hours, and
then hand it over in a to-go container. Actually,
it seems like we should pay more.
when I walk up to the RoliRoti truck, the same
business my daughter had visited a decade ago.
The owner, Thomas Odermatt, son of a Swiss
Metzgermeister (master butcher), has evolved
his offerings since then and now sells an array
of meats and roasted vegetables. I like the feeling of trust I have buying from him and from
many of the other vendors. It is a lot easier
than growing and producing my own. Are you
a home farmer? We’d love to see your gardens.
Please take a photo and tag @marinmagazine
on your favorite social media channel.
Cheers to the soon-to-come bounty of
spring. And bon appétit!
Mimi Towle, Editor