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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Farmers’ Market feeds local biz

Baraha+Elkhalil+%2F+Arizona+Summer+WildcatVendors+tend+to+their+produce+at+Farmers+Market+Friday+at+the+College+of+Medicine+on+Friday%2C+June+5.+Employees%2C+students+and+even+hospital+patients+will+venture+to+the+farmers+market+to+purchase+a+variety+of+all-organic+foods.

Baraha Elkhalil / Arizona Summer Wildcat

Vendors tend to their produce at Farmer’s Market Friday at the College of Medicine on Friday, June 5. Employees, students and even hospital patients will venture to the farmers’ market to purchase a variety of all-organic foods.

Where did my food come from? How was this grown or made? What preservatives or pesticides were used? Who is profiting from this?

Local vendors selling local products can answer all these questions every Friday at the Arizona Health Sciences Center plaza from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. during the FoodInRoot Farmers’ Market.

Over 20 vendors set up shop selling products such as organic foods, prepared lunches, coffee, baked goods, salsas, artisan goods, jewelry and jams.

Tim Keene, market manager for FoodInRoot, said, “It’s the antithesis of a supermarket experience where you’re surrounded by rows and rows of produce but nobody to tell you about it.”

Vendors welcome questions regarding their typically all-natural, organic products with no additives or preservatives.

Keene said Clayton Kammerer, FoodInRoot owner and UA alumnus, developed the idea during his senior year as a business model for the McGuire Entrepreneurship Program.

The market’s business model is a lunchtime market but augmented by its artisan products and fresh produce. He said the best-selling products at Banner — Health University Medical Center are the prepared foods like lunches and snacks that are convenient and healthy.

Food vendors like Anna White, owner of Anna’s Kitchen, provide a variety of prepared foods for lunch that are delicious alternatives to traditional hospital food. The big sellers are chicken pad Thai and General Tso’s chicken.

Common customers are Banner center employees, visitors, physicians, UA students and even some patients.

Antonio McGowan, owner of Mouth of the South Salsa, sells award-winning salsa with all-organic, local ingredients and no additives or preservatives in four degrees: lame, tame, flame and insane.

“The insane is definitely insane,” Cheryl Abott commented. Abott was picking up a pint of lame and tame salsa as she does every couple weeks since first trying it in 2014. But McGowan added, “There’s no shame in the tame.”

P.H.Ö.D., or Plant Healthy Organic Delectables, co-owned by Jon and Christa Parsons, satisfy customers’ sweet tooths with homemade brownies and muffins or prepackaged mixes that customers take on the go.

Parsons said the Skinny Brownies are a popular spin-off on protein bars, made with all-organic ingredients and high-protein from natural sources. The idea originated after clients at their personal training studios complained about store-bought protein bars.

The Parsons participated in the three-day Farmers’ Market test run on the UA Mall from April 8 to May 6, and received positive feedback. Krista said, “A lot of gals come back to say, ‘This is my study food now!’ ”

Miguel Puig of Better Fresco Bar & Juicery also participated in the UA market on the Mall, serving fresco bars and cold-press juices.

“A fresco bar comes with pico de gallo, watermelon, coconut, mango, jicama, orange and cucumber with chili on top,” said Puig. “We also squeeze a lime on top to bring out the sugars in the fruit.”

The cold-press juices are concoctions of fresh produce bought at each market from the vendors before they open. The juice press machine doesn’t add water or sugar while producing a pound-and-a-half worth of produce in a 12-ounce serving.

“We are trying to support the community and everyone here,” Puig said, whose mission matches that of the market — to be healthy and local.

Puig buys produce from vendors like George Wyckoff of Grammy’s Garden and Gil Mejias of Hand Picked Produce who both sell fresh vegetables and fruits.

According to Wyckoff, Grammy’s Garden was started out of his father’s boredom and named in honor of his late grandmother. “He woke up, turned on the TV, watched ‘Leave it to Beaver’ and after ten minutes decided to order a greenhouse,” he said.

It later turned into two greenhouses and the family’s first participation in a Bisbee, Ariz., farmers’ market 15 years ago.

He started selling at the first UA farmers’ market at the Arizona Health Sciences Center on Earth Day in 2013. Since then he added, “The market has grown quite a bit — tripled in size.”

More recent vendors include Gil Mejias, owner of Hand Picked Produce. He specializes in produce, some of which comes from Chile, Argentina and Mexico.

“Everything that I have is naturally grown, pesticide-free and certified organic,” Mejias said. “These customers aren’t just supporting their health and eating better, but they are supporting local, small businesses.”

In addition to its days at the center, the FoodInRoot Farmers’ Market will be available every Wednesday on the Mall beginning in the fall.

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Follow David McGlothlin on Twitter.

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