For all I know this phenomenon may be nationwide, but I think I’m pretty special and lucky to live in a neighborhood where, during strawberry season, a man appears on a street corner just a few blocks away selling farm-fresh strawberries at a below-market price. It’s always the same guy, though I have yet to ask his name. And if he’s not there, there is another man who also sells such strawberries just a few blocks from my son’s school.
A few days ago, I was down to my last jar of strawberry jam, which meant it was time for me to buy some strawberries and make strawberry jam again. I’ve become so used to buying strawberries at farmer’s markets and from our corner strawberry seller that I was appalled at the strawberries in the store. I had thought I could buy them in a box; instead they came in little plastic containers. The strawberries inside looked old and browning and the price was an outrageous $2.99. I vowed I would find our street corner vendor the next day. And find him I did. Here he is:
To my surprise, he was selling mangoes and cherries as well. Cherries are grown in this area too (until recently, there was a working cherry farm in Sunnyvale), but I’ve always thought of mangoes as more exotic, tropical fruit. Yet, as well as cherries, I’ve seen them at the local farmer’s market, too. I just had to know where they’re being grown in California. After I bought a box of huge strawberries from him, I asked him where the mangoes came from. He didn’t speak English (except other than to make commerce), so I pulled out my pidgin Spanish, to success. He told me the mangoes come from Mexico–I guess it’s still profitable enough for small farmers to truck them up here to small markets. I hoped the strawberries and cherries were Californian, and they are: the strawberries came from Watsonville and the cherries from Stanton.
Sniff. I miss strawberries. But even if Mary weren’t allergic, you are right that the ones in the stores aren’t worth the price even if you can find ones that haven’t started turning moldy. Did you know that 20 years ago or so, Vista used to be the strawberry capital of America?
I also miss the farmer’s market in Salinas. Sniff. Sniff. sniff.