Heart of the City Farmers’ Market is at the United Nations Plaza and on the edge of the Tenderloin, one of the poorest neighborhoods in San Francisco. A neighborhood know for violent crime, drug addiction and homelessness. It’s also right smack dab in the middle of town adjacent to the very touristy hotel district Union Square. The Tenderloin really hasn’t changed much since I first came to San Francisco almost 26 years ago – which I have to admit is kind of baffling, particularly in light of how much New York City has been able to help its homeless population and rid the city of the site of people sleeping in doorways and drugged up beggars asking you for money at every turn. Of course I’m not suggesting NYC has eliminated the problem, but compared to San Francisco it has – the Tenderloin reminds me of Time Square circa 1979.
All of this to say that it was heartening to see that the market which occurs twice a week here reflects the neighborhood. The Tenderloin is also home to Little Saigon, a plethora of Pakistani restaurants and some of the best Thai food in the US. I visited my favorite Thai restaurant Lers Ros a few nights ago to find the food as good as ever and was happy to see it more packed that it was when I first came across it.
What you find at this market is cheaper produce then at other markets, less organic goods, a good helping of food trucks to feed the hungry officer works lunch (more on that to come in another post) and a lot of Asian produce. I even saw a guy selling big wonderful looking ginger, when I asked him if he grew it he said, yes but in a hot-house. Northern California never ceases to amaze me with its agricultural wealth, not just diversity but quality.
And in a nod to the poor people who live near this bi-weekly market there was plentiful dollar bags of fresh produce: something for everyone and in everyone’s price range.
San Francisco has a vibrant farmers market calendar all year run, almost every day there is a market happening somewhere in town. And unlike the markets back home on the east coast these markets sell, well, just about everything from all over the globe.