Phoenix Farmers' Markets
I'm brand new to the Phoenix Farmer's Market scene, and I was looking for a little bit of help. I was at Roadrunner yesterday morning, and ended up getting quite a bit of produce at the first stand I happened upon. The lines were long, and I figured lines meant a good thing. But after I made my purchases and continued walking, I noticed there were half a dozen other produce stands. I couldn't help but think that the only reason the orginal stand I was at was busy simply due to it's location. What I'm curious to find out is if any one farm is "known for" one thing or another. I hate to see the other stands get tossed to the side simply because they're not first in line. Of course whatever I buy is sure to be better than any supermarket produce, but I'm looking to make the most of my experience/time/money, and patronize those who really deserve it. Thanks!
To find the best produce I look at what everyone has and ask a lot of questions. I've found things aren't always what they seem. You think your buying something local and it turns out to be from washington. Which is maybe ok, but you can probably get the same thing at whole foods for less.
Is the beef grass finished, or is it raised on grass then finished on grain at the stock yard? Where is the ranch, if it's close can I visit it?
Are the chickens pasture chickens?
and so on.
A lot of people prefer grass raised and grain finished, personally I like grass finished. But, if you don't ask you may not be getting what you were hoping for.
FYI, regarding your concern about local foods at the farmer's market, this statement is on the website for the downtown PHX market:
"Everything offered for sale at the Market is grown or made by the person selling it and the more ingredients that come from Arizona and the southwest the better."
I'm a regular at FM goer. I think McClendon's has the best produce and best variety however they are by far the most expensive. IMO they are the only reason to go to the Scottsdale FM and really the only produce vendor. Overall I think the downtown Phoenix FM is the best and has certainly come a long way. I always tour the entire market mentally deciding what to go back and purchase.
I've been looking into grass-fed beef, ever since watching Food, Inc. ( http://www.foodincmovie.com ). So far, I've been pleasantly surprised with what I've purchased. I like ribeyes, and had "rib steaks" (bone-in) from JH Grass Fed (Roadrunner Farmer's Market), and boneless ribeyes from Double Check Ranch (Downtown Phoenix Farmer's Market). I'll probably try a couple of others. The funny thing is - I've actually become more open-minded about eating beef, and will probably start purchasing beef products that I would never consider buying from a supermarket.
I hit roadrunner and DT Phx markets all the time. Sometimes Vincent's and DT Scottsdale also. I like roadrunner, I think you will find all the vendors with good product. A few a larger and have more things and I believe that attracts more crowds. Most people enter roadrunner from different directions depending on where they parked, so that is not the key attraction. I wish roadrunner had better parking.