The plethora of farmers’ markets in southern California is one the things that makes living here in LA somewhat bearable. Otherwise, I would be miserable (but mildy amused) watching the eye candy barbie dolls, top heavy with silicone, jewels, and oversized sunglasses teetering around on spike heels nursing chihuahuas in their Balenciaga bags with an Evian bottle. I would need extreme anger management for my freeway traffic road rage at rush 24-7 (because it’s not just an hour) trying to understand why getting from one neighborhood, two-point-five miles from the next neighborhood takes no less than 40 minutes. I would be downright depressed thinking about the inflated housing market in which the amount of money that buys a ranch and about 50 heads of longhorns in Kansas can only afford...a ten-by-ten Public Storage warehouse space, in the ghetto. Did I mention the 405 traffic? *sigh* Thank God for the LA farmers’ markets, otherwise I’d be in therapy for years.
But there’s a funny phenomenon, if that’s the right word for it, that sort of ties together the idea of farmers’ markets and L.A. drive-time traffic (on the ones!). If you’re not from L.A., then you might wonder what that suspicious dark-skinned young man donning a straw hat, or sometimes its a Dodgers cap, is going to do with an entire bag of oranges on his shoulder from the center divider. Don’t worry. Angelenos know – it’s miniature, portable, one-man produce market, and if you wave your $10 bill from the window while waiting for the light to change, he’ll bring over a bag of lemons or oranges, box of mangoes, a flat of strawberries, and if you’re lucky, he might even have pineapples.
From what I’ve seen, the produce is rarely, if ever, locally grown produce from nearby farms. Usually, the fruits are in commercially packed boxes or bags with stickers from Ecuador. Or Bolivia. Or somewhere else, but definitely not the U.S. I am quite certain there are no mango orchards in California. I am going to guess that these entrepreneurs have gone to the ports, picked up a box of mangoes for five bucks, and are selling them to me for ten. 100% markup. That’s quite a brilliant business model.
On my morning commute, there are three of these little vendors, but their locations will have to remain a mystery, for I discovered that the legality of these enterprises is somewhat questionable. Recently, Señor Naranja (name has been changed to protect his identity, though I don’t think I ever got his name to begin with LOL!) was very nervous after I had slammed on the brakes, squealed out a u-turn, and pulled over to his corner, all in the matter of about 6 seconds. Rows of oranges, stacks of strawberry flats like lincoln logs, various boxes leaning against each other to create a lovely display stand for the pineapples lined up across their tops. I started snapping photos, and I had to assure him, amigo, no te preocupes. Es para on proyecto personal. He still looked worried, and probably wondered why, dressed in bizness cazh, I was on my knees in front of the mangoes at 8 am. I’m not sure for what reason these guys would not be legit, but even if they aren’t, at least they’re pushing produce, not something else. And I’d like to continue telling myself that my $10 is helping to support his family.
Now the question is, what am I supposed to do with an entire box of mangoes?!?! I'm allergic to them.
Mmmm. Mango-ritas. You know, 'cuz tequila helps with the itching and all. ;)