Seated on a picnic table bordering Grand Avenue, Jude Diaz takes a bite of the ice cream he purchased a few feet away. His eyes widen and light up.
“You need to try this- it’s made out of nuts,” he tells his wife Rachel, shoving the cup in her face. “No dairy!”
“No dairy?” she asks.
No dairy. Like many other food products sold at the Coconut Grove Farmers Market, it’s also raw vegan and organic. Foods considered ‘raw vegan’ have no trace of animal origin and have not been cooked at more than 118 degrees Fahrenheit.
Each Saturday, about 1,000 people attend the farmers market, which USA Today named as one of the best in the nation. The market sells organic produce, raw vegan concoctions, and other rare food products of this nature that can solely be found at this venue.
“There’s nothing really quite like this anywhere,” said manager Stan Glaser, his narrow frame attesting to his 35 years as a raw vegan. He is also the owner of Glaser Organic Farms, which provides most of the products featured.
The market is spread out along Grand Avenue. Colorful displays of recognizable produce occupy most of the space alongside foods that are not as recognizable: red flax seed crackers, raw hump seed nut butter, chickpea carrot croquettes and more.
The market also features 50 different kinds of juices, a salad bar and a deli, in addition to spreads, pies and salad dressings- all raw vegan and all organic.
Recent graduate Melanie D’Andrea made an impromptu visit to the market on her way back to campus two miles away. She went raw vegan for two weeks.
“[The market] opens your mind to what food is and how you can prepare it differently,” D’Andrea said. “For the people who…are at S’barros 24/7, it’s a good way to get healthy food.”
“When you eat a lot of processed food, they become robbed of nutrients. Raw food is nutrient dense,” said Tracy Fleming, the raw food chef at Glaser Organic Farms. She is the creator of many of the prepared raw vegan products sold at the farmers’ market.
Under one of the tents, local yoga and martial arts instructor Kiro Ace eats a slice of raw vegan strawberry shortcake and washes it down with coconut water.
“I’ve become addicted to the feeling of [being] healthy,” he said. But, the feeling comes with a price.
Sixteen ounces of organic vegan ice cream is listed at about $16, almost three times the cost of a regular pint of ice cream in any typical grocery store. Although only a small percentage of the individuals who visit the market are actually raw vegan, Manju Goradia and other customers agree that the food is worth the occasional splurge.
“I would rather eat here than the best restaurant in town,” Goradia said.
IF YOU GO
What: Coconut Grove Farmers’ Market
When: 10:00 a.m.-7:00 p.m. every Saturday
Where: 3300 Grand Avenue, Coconut Grove
Farah Dosani may be contacted at email@example.com.