When living , especially in a place like Santa Monica, it can be hard to maintain a healthy diet. I’m a pretty athletic person; I a week and try to hit the gym or at least do some push-ups and things like that on days when I’m not playing. I’m 27 years old now—not old by any means, but old enough where diet has become a lot more important to be able to maintain that kind of physical activity.
When I was in high school, I had the metabolism of a hummingbird (I assume their metabolism is fast, right?). I would play soccer right after school, then walk to Burger King with my friend Kurt. When ordering, it was never a question of how much food we should get, it was a matter of how much money we had on us, and what was the most food we could get with that amount. If I had $5 on me, that meant I was getting five items off the dollar menu. I did this more often than not after soccer, and yet I was scrawny and thin. In fact, my soccer coach told me it would be a good idea for me to gain some weight, so I wouldn’t be pushed around on the field. If he saw me at , he’d know I was trying!
Alas, those days are behind me. Although I’m in pretty good shape at the moment, I have to be conscious of what I eat. My girlfriend, who is obsessed with , dragged me out there recently. The food is great and healthy, but good lord, it’s expensive.
Until I start making a little more money, I need to stay out of that place. This Wednesday, however, I think we found a way to have the best of both worlds: the . I often talk in this column about how , because there are so many great places I can walk or ride my bike to. Well, add one more to that tally.
When My girlfriend and I walked to the one on Arizona last Wednesday, she gravitated instantly to the tents of flowers (great deals, by the way), while I was more interested in the free samples of fruit from tent to tent. The fruit is so fresh and sweet, it makes you embarrassed for ever buying any from a grocery store.
Every person we saw working at a tent had a smile on their face and was happily telling you about how they grow their product, offering samples and just chatting with you in general. It seems weird to make a big deal out of that, but I feel like customer/vendor interactions like this are so rare these days. Everything is just processed, packaged and charged via the barcode on your credit card. There’s something about buying stuff straight from the source, cash-only, that feels nostalgic in a great way.
We got ourselves fruit, vegetables, fresh goat cheese and flowers for under $25. When we were buying the flowers on our way out, the vendor gave us $16 back when I had only given him a $10 bill, mistakenly thinking I had given him a $20. I realized this about a half-block later and went back to tell him. These guys work hard for not a lot of money, I would have felt awful if he had basically paid us to take two bouquets of flowers from him.
I told him what happened, and he said he was sure I had given him a $20, even showing me the bill he thought I had given him. Seeing as I had only started out with $20 on our trip, I knew he was mistaken. He was so nice, said he appreciated my honesty and wouldn’t let me off the hook—we split the extra $10, keeping $5 each. Such a friendly place; I’m now a loyal customer.
I watch Netflix documentaries like it’s my job, including ones like The Future of Food, King Corn and others that chronicle how big corporations are exploiting farmers and processing their food with chemicals. Watching these movies so often really got it in my head, there’s just something so pure about buying fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the farmer.
No more Burger King—at least for a bit. The allure of fast food to save some money on my tight budget is gone. We came home with fresh corn, asparagus, peaches and blood oranges (so good, I wish I could invest in them). I’m actually excited to make some good dinners this week. See you next Wednesday, farmers!