Market Memories: Judith Ganz

May 17, 2013

Judith Ganz has been shopping the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market for the last 20 years. For the market’s 20th anniversary, she was interviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle.

I have been going to the market since its inception. I grew up in the Bronx: vegetables came in cans or in the freezer department. Somewhere along the way, I developed a love for cooking, watching Julia Child on TV, and I discovered what I thought was the real thing.

But it wasn’t until I started shopping at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market that I learned the joys of eating food directly from the source and cooking seasonally, making do with those bitter lettuces and root vegetables in winter, then savoring the joys of when asparagus from Zuckerman Farms, cucumbers from Madison Growers, salmon from Shogun Fish Company, snap peas from Iacopi Farms, amazing salad greens and remarkable fresh-dug potatoes from Green Gulch Farm, and stone fruits and blueberries return to the market.

Over these many years, I have developed deep friendships with many of the farmers. I am an attorney who represents indigent families on appeal. The stories of their lives are ever so sad. But my weekly trip to the market brings joy to my life; it is not just the food that nourishes me. My life would not be the same without those hugs, or discussions of the impact of weather, or the excitement of new plantings, or “medical advice” such as making mushroom tea (Far West Fungi) or sprinkling gold cayenne  over hot water, lemon, and honey (Tierra Vegetables).

I have made market friends, those other dedicated shoppers, such as Alex and Martin, whom I met over fresh horseradish as we each planned our Seder meal; Jeanmaire, who needed a temporary housing arrangement to endure the Sacramento commute for work (as I had done for several years); or Christine, who taught me to meditate when I faced a stressful event. And how I relish the freely-given advice from chefs who counseled me to cook a winter soup any way, even when I could not find a missing ingredient, or who warned me not to cook an asparagus soup the day before serving, lest it turn brown.

Some years ago, I celebrated my 65th birthday by bussing 60 of my nearest and dearest friends from Oakland to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. I thought of no better way to inform my friends of how I was thriving! CUESA welcomed us with a short talk on the value of market shopping and seasonal cooking. I divided the throng into small groups (folks from different parts of my life who may not have known each other before) and gave each an envelope with cash and an assignment. We met back at the bus and returned to a large hall with kitchen where each group prepared their goodies. We enjoyed the best birthday meal ever!!!

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