The history of the Bay Area Farmer's Markets is interesting to me. They began in 1943 when the pear growers in Marin County (we live in San Francisco county, Oakland is Alameda county, Sausalito is Marin county) had a huge surplus of pears that they weren't able to sell. The growers got in touch with the local news, and advertised that the pears would be $.04/pound if you brought your own container. Pears in San Francisco were selling for $.22/pound at the time. San Franciscian housewives rushed to Marin county and snatched up all the pears in one afternoon. The other counties heard about this and started to report surplus produce.
San Franciscians welcomed the farmers into the city. At first there were only a few trucks coming in, but after a while the farmers came flooding into the city on market days. They were going bankrupt and desperate: huge crop surplus combined with economic restrictions spelled probable disaster for small farmers. There were gas shortages at the time because of the war, so farmers coming to the city was the best for both parties: the farmers were able to sell their crops directly to the consumer and earn more per pound than when they sold to the middle men. The consumers received thier produce fresh from the source and were able to get it at less than half the price they normally paid. The consumers also received much higher quality produce from the Sonoma, Napa, and Santa Clara counties instead of produce shipped in from other states or even other countries.
Now there are Farmer's Markets to attend just about any day of the week here. The largest one in the city is the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market - located at the Ferry Building. It runs Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday and is considered one of the top markets in the country. Along with an astounding array of fresh fruits and vegetables, the farmers and artisans sell meat, eggs, cheeses, flowers, jams, preserves, and breads. Many if not most of the products are certified organic. Each week nearly 25,000 people visit just the Ferry Plaza market.