By Bailey Hollingsworth
Everyday people consume food without much thought as to where it came from. Today in Hollywood, California the brisk morning breeze welcomes a bustle of vendors preparing for the open-air street market. It’s a shopping frenzy unlike any supermarket you’ve ever seen and it’s one of many sprouting up across the nation.
Sustainable Economic Enterprises of Los Angeles (SEE-LA) prides itself in the development of the Hollywood Farmers Market. Farmers markets provide locally produced direct-to-consumer food and goods. Creating an environment for farmers and consumers to meet SEE-LA, “connects people with their roots, to their own essential parts of their lives and nourishes them,” explains Pompea Smith, Director of the Hollywood Farmers Market, “that’s the human element that lacks when you go into a supermarket.”
According to the US Commerce Department, America imported over $23 trillion in food commodities last year. Of these imports, the FDA inspects less then 1%. With food safety scares still lingering and the rising cost of fossil fuel used to transport these goods that are often sprayed with harmful chemicals, Americans interest in affordable clean food has grown.
There is nearly one million small family owned farms throughout the United States and over 4,600 farmers markets. With local farmers and artisans selling their goods to people just around the corner, the farmers market has really begun to develop a system that will allow our local economies to grow and prosper.
Eliminating regulations enforced by supermarket buyers, such as size and quantity, small farmers selling direct-to-consumer products allow for higher profit yields and greater control over production. By shopping at farmers markets American foodies have eliminated extensive food-miles, big AG, and have ultimately become more sustainable and knowledgeable about where, who and how their food is produced.
Patrons of this market not only find fresh food and flowers but also camaraderie between one another. The explosion of life that engulfs the streets during these few hours helped coin the nickname “Hollywood’s Front Porch.” While having their morning coffee a group of friend’s comment, “We started coming to the market for the food but the social aspect has become almost more important than the shopping… You see everybody here. Last week we were buying onions next to Katy Lange. Everybody’s here!”
With the ever-growing globally produced food system our society currently devours, it’s refreshing to surround oneself with people who devote their lives to health and well-being. The driving mission behind SEE-LA, sustainability of the local community and economy, thrives within the company of producers and patrons at the Hollywood Farmers Market. SEE-LA has truly cooked-up a plethora of opportunities for local Angelenos to activate their senses. You can learn more about them at www.see-la.org.