A cardboard sign in the large parking lot exclaiming, “Free Rides!” sits next to a caramel-colored pony and its chipper owner while a light cloud of fog filters through the winding dirt path of the SFC Farmers’ Market at Sunset Valley. As I walk by the white polyester tents, I smell fresh-brewed coffee and marvel at the handmade art prints and knives. The sea of items to touch and smell and evaluate puts my foodie brain on high. Fluffy dogs with colorful leashes sit next to their relaxed, chatty owners on a small grassy area while the stickiness of Austin’s heat starts to set in.
As it was my first time to the Sunset Valley Farmers’ Market, I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect or how much of my reusable bag I’d fill up. But after perusing the offerings, I had to make some tough choices and ended up with five items I couldn’t leave without
1. Broccoli From Johnson’s Backyard Garden
Although, admittedly, I could have brought home about 75 percent of their offerings (arugula and sweet carrots were calling me) I took home the Broccoli. Not only was it displayed in a box that made the supply look endless, but it smelled fantastic; fresh and earthy as if I had just picked it myself. The vibrant green hue capped it off and pulled me in to purchase. I also like the versatility of broccoli as a vegetable. It’s perfect for salads, stir-fries, and casseroles, but works just as well strutting its stuff solo.
2. Whole Wheat Bread From Texas French Bread
As a recovering carbo-holic, I’ve been working towards a better tomorrow by decreasing the amount of carbs I eat each day. However, I just couldn’t forgive myself if I left without trying a local loaf. Even though the sourdough and baguette looked crunchily-delicious, I got the whole wheat loaf topped with sesame seeds. It spoke to me with its crackling crust and moist interior. Over the other breads, it was heartier and could lend itself well to one of my favorite dishes, toad in the hole grilled cheese. I’m sure any of the breads would be a great buy, but for me, I had to have the first one that jumped out at me: the whole wheat.
3. Pea Microgreens From Born Free Farms
I never tasted microgreens until I tried the sample at Born Free Farms, but once I did, I was hooked. Radish, sunflower, and pea microgreens are available, with the sunflower samples reigning as the crowd favorite. The radish greens were a bit too harsh for my taste and the sunflower were on the sweet side, but the pea was just the right balance of acid and sweet. I decided to mix the greens into a lemon vinaigrette to top salmon with, but they’re also excellent as a healthy munching snack without any fancy additives.
4. Coffee From Texas Coffee Traders
From the time I walked in until the time I left, the aroma of coffee floated in the air begging early-Saturday-morning risers to sample a cup. I’m not a fan of coffee, but my boyfriend, and plenty of others, were toting around mugs of Texas Coffee Traders’ fair trade roasted beans commenting on the exquisiteness of each sip. To further the point, it was still hot enough outside that a light tank top and shorts didn’t keep one from sweating…I mean glistening. Seems that even if it’s broiling outside, the coffee is so good the extra rise in internal body temperature is worth it.
5. Bar Soap From SoAP (South Austin People)
They had me at smell-o. These dye-free, petroleum-free, animal product-free, certified organic soaps use 10 different types of vegetable oils and come in enough flavors to keep your body interested. I was going to settle for just the Peppermint Oatmeal, but the niece and nephew of the owner were so friendly and informative, I ended up getting five…oops. Definitely recommend the Kaolin Clay Shaving Bar, South Austin Mud, and Texas Pecan Eucalyptus.