If you find yourself in the East Valley on a Saturday morning, the Gilbert Farmer's Market is a delicious place to get lost for a few hours. If you're strictly on the hunt for local produce, this might not be your best Metro Phoenix option; while the market did feature a handful of fruit and veggie peddlers, a majority of the vendors were selling prepared foods, cooking accessories, or artwork.
Though the Gilbert market is decidedly more "Market" than it is "Farmers," we sampled plenty of praise-worthy local products.
Mixed Greens from Crooked Sky Farms
The first thing we saw when we entered the market was a glorious table filled with salad greens. Crooked Sky Farms provides a generously sized bag, and for three small dollars Gilbert Farmer's Market attendees can stuff it as full as they want with baby greens and loose-leaf lettuces of their choosing. Better yet, all of Crooked Sky's products are Certified Naturally Grown and organically produced.
Doctor Hummus Dips
Doctor Hummus has the cure to all that ails us, and it comes in the form of delicious dips, tapenades, pita chips, and of course, hummus. The Good Doctor himself is darn charming; his booth was constantly packed with folks eager to sample his goods, and he doled each pita chip with a firm instruction to not, by any means, double dip. We like him, we like his hummus, we like his olive tapenade, and we like that he has vegan versions of many classic creamy dips (dairy-free spinach and artichoke dip, anyone?).
Go lb. Salts and Bring Home the Bacon
Go lb. Salts and their bacon project, Bring Home the Bacon, specialize in all things salted and brined. Their pork is sourced from heritage breed pasture-raised hogs fed a strictly vegan diet. The pork belly comes from Iowa, but the meat is smoked and cured in Central Phoenix. Their bacon is dry-rubbed (rather than dredged) with a combination of unrefined salt and organic raw sugar. This results in 30-50% less sodium in the final product, so if you're like us you'll totally be able to convince yourself that their bacon is a health food.
Speaking of sodium - Go lb. Salts also produces beautiful salt boards for cooking, baking, and serving food. They look like slabs of marble, but are designed to impart a slightly salty flavor to whatever touches their surface. Yum.
Agritopia Ponderosa Lemons
The Farm at Agritopia had a number of great produce options on display at the Gilbert Farmer's Market, but we were pretty entranced by their Ponderosa Lemons. These lemons are roughly the size of a softball, and have a slightly bumpy surface. We were informed that this particular strain of citrus is a natural hybrid between a grapefruit and table (or Lisbon) lemon. The fruit is large, but identical in flavor and texture to a normal lemon, which makes it a great option for recipes that call for a lot of zest or juice.
We won't lie to you: these wines are really weird, and unlike anything we've ever tasted. Trident Winery is located in Pine, and all of their products are made without the use of added sulfites - a huge plus for all you sulfite-sensitive folk. Many of their options are crafted from somewhat unexpected fruits, like melons, apricots, and berries, and they generally tend to be on the dry side. Trident also offers a number of Sonoran desert options, like Ocotillo Blossom and Prickly Pear wines, that are interesting and unexpected, to say the least.