Yak Meat and Yulu Seeds: Savoring the Exotic at Farmers' Markets in the West and Southwest

There's a fascinating bounty on offer at these Western markets.
farmers market

Oregon's Beaverton Farmers' Market

Flowers for sale at Oregon's Beaverton Farmers' Market.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Beaverton Farmers' Market.

Image courtesy of Beaverton Farmers' Market.

Flowers for sale at Oregon's Beaverton Farmers' Market.

True, California is famous for its farmers’ markets. But the other states on the western side of the country can hold their own when it comes to fresh produce, artisan goods and unique market fare. Here are three must-visit markets in the Southwest and West Coast that offer great atmosphere and unforgettable goods:

Tucked inside the city’s re-imagined Railroad District, this large, diverse market attracts locals and tourists alike. In addition to the expected fruits, veggies, honey and fresh eggs, you’ll find some uniquely New Mexico offerings including emu oil, an amazing selection of chiles, buffalo steaks and even yak meat. True to Santa Fe’s artsy reputation, this market includes several arts and crafts vendors (there is a separate, larger artisan’s market on Sunday mornings) but the focus is definitely on the food: local favorites include Buckin’ Bee honey, Sweetwood Dairy goat cheese and pastries from Chocolate Maven.  

When: Tuesdays and Saturdays: 7 a.m.-noon, year round.

Where: 1607 Paseo De Peralta, Santa Fe, NM

If you’ve ever assumed Phoenix is a harsh desert climate more attuned to growing cactus than cucumbers, think again: this huge market (150+ vendors all selling only items they grew or made themselves) is proof that Arizona is serious about agriculture. Located at the Phoenix Public Market, this Saturday morning gathering place offers fresh produce and plenty of tasty food. Sip a lavender lemonade from Wisdom-Nectar as you shop, and get acquainted with roasted yulu seeds (a Southwestern treat) at Yulu. Don’t miss chocolate cupcakes from the Cake Contessa, salsa from The Gardener’s Kitchen, and hummus, baba ghanouj and other Middle Eastern treats from Dr. Hummus. 

Forgot your cash? No big deal: a convenient check-out system allows you to pay by credit card at the front desk when you’re all done shopping.

When: Saturdays from 8 a.m.-noon. There is also a smaller market open on Wednesdays from 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Open April through October, but check the market website for seasonal hours.

Where: 14 E. Pierce Street, downtown Phoenix, AZ

The Beaverton Farmers' Market is said to be the best in Oregon (and the largest agriculture-only market in the Pacific Northwest), and considering the competition, that’s no small feat. The market is located next to a park, boasts free parking and offers accessibility for wheelchairs and strollers. There’s also a valet table that allows you to stash your purchases while you finish shopping. A long list of offerings includes specialty vinegars, jams, meat pies, wines and of course an abundant supply of oh-so-fresh organic and local produce. Regulars rave about Fetzer’s brats, Zoe Ann’s Cheesecakes, chicken curry pie at Pacific Pie Company, and the tamales at Canby Asparagus Farms.

When: Saturdays 8 a.m.-1:30 p.m., May through November; a smaller market is available on Wednesday afternoons from 3 p.m.-6 p.m., June through August. Check website for dates.

Where: SW Hall Blvd. between 3rd and 5th Streets, Beaverton, OR

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