Have You Seen Malabar Spinach?

Ah, so long, my friends. After the day of the finals doom, I had to move into a new place for the summer and fly to Salt Lake City with my family for a brief post-college trip. Yesterday, as I came back to Westwood, I decided to visit the Farmers’ Market after a hectic morning. Farmers’ Markets always manage to freshen up my mind–it’s one of my relaxation techniques.

In fact, I went to Westwood’s market because I wanted to see if Uri, the founder of Brassica & Brine, was there. A month or two ago, I was ecstatic to see Uri selling early grey and yerba mate kombucha along with other wild-fermented goodies, such as sauerkraut and kimchi, at the market. Having been brewing my own kombucha for several months now, I was so grateful to have conversed with Uri as he generously shared some brewin’ tips with me. I could tell that he’s got a real zeal for what he does–the excitement he expressed when he introduced me to The Art of Fermentation indicated his dedication to bringing naturally wholesome foods to the community.

After poking around Uri’s website, I found out that he even offers fermentation classes. To stay true to its ideals of promoting organic, well-fermented foods, Brassica & Brine incorporates local California ingredients, supports people who bike to farmers’ markets, and even utilizes a wind-power web host. The website is just pure delight. Although Uri wasn’t at the stand yesterday when I visited, I still got to try the popular Four Thieves sauerkraut, which is made of a beautiful fermented symphony of lavender, sage, rosemary, and thyme.

I stumbled upon June’s produce stand as I was captured by an array of root vegetables and heirloom tomatoes she offered at her stand.

It was precisely at this stand that I re-encountered an intriguing vegetable called “Malabar spinach“.  Malabar spinach, botanically known as Basella alba (pretty name, huh?), is a thicker and more adorable looking spinach–but don’t be fooled, this veggies doesn’t taste like spinach at all. Instead of leaving a strangely chalky feeling on your teeth from eating regular spinach, Malabar spinach actually has a slimy texture after being cooked. Fascinating, isn’t it?

Seeing her relatives’ success in their farming business, June decided to start her own farm in Fresno, California. June aims to provide uncommon vegetables to shoppers at farmers’ markets, and she has been assiduous in following pesticide-free and non-GMO practices. When I mentioned that I’d like to write about her stand on MarketHoppers, she smiled delightedly and said she spent so much time taking care of the farm that her siblings were in charge of keeping in touch with the interwebs.

Knowing that I was about to take off, June introduced me to every single kind of tomato she had and bagged some of the most delicious tomatoes I have ever tasted for me to go home and enjoy. Sweet, refreshing, and juicy, these baby tomatoes (forgive me for that I have forgotten its actual name) definitely made my day. I was obviously extremely joyous; I really felt as if I have established a truly friendly bond with June.

Just when I thought I was already having the best day ever, I was captured by Weiser Family Farms‘ variety of melons. Henry, another nice soul at the Westwood Farmers’ Market, offered me several samples of the melons. Little did I know that there were so many kinds of scrumptious melons out there! These melons came from adventures that the owner of the farm, Alex, went on years ago, and they’re from beautiful countries such as France and Israel.

Sampling couple slices of melons turned into an extended chat with Henry. Apparently, he created Farm2office, which provides a service that brings fresh, local, and sustainable fruits and veggies to Los Angeles to promote wellness from inside-out. Employees can freely choose pounds of produce with discounted prices while enjoy a week worth of nutritious foods with their families. Happy employees=Happy companies=Happy society=Happy world. Maybe Farm2office is actually aiming for ultimate world peace. Jokes aside, these melons from Weiser’s Family Farms are currently featured on LA Weekly. I can’t wait to go back next week and get one to enjoy it with slices of prosciutto.

Who would have thought a spontaneous trip to the Westwood Farmers’ Market would turn into an afternoon of establishing new friendships? Virginia and I genuinely enjoy going to farmers’ markets not only because of the invigorating produce but also the approachability of the vendors. We want to know where our food came from and how it was grown. As consumers, we should take initiatives to enhance our eating habits by supporting locally grown organic foods.

When I was having the tomatoes that June gave me for breakfast today, the sweetness of these vibrant and succulent fruits brought me back to the pleasant afternoon I spent at the farmers’ market. After the visit, my spirit was uplifted, the corners of my mouth stayed upwards, and the amount of natural vitamins I consumed increased. Immersing yourself into the wonderful things that farmers’ markets present is really a form of relaxation. Thank you, everyone that I talked to at the market on Thursday, you are awesome.

Information about the Westwood Farmers’ Market can be found here.

With love,


3 thoughts on “Have You Seen Malabar Spinach?

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