Coconut Grove Saturday Organic Market
3300 Grand Ave., Miami
Hours: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays.
During any given Saturday under the large blue and white tent on Grand Avenue, you can find foodies, yogis and earthy folks of all ages clawing at boxes of fresh organic produce and cooling down with cups of fresh, homemade vegan ice cream.
The Coconut Grove Saturday Organic Market has maintained a loyal fan base for more than 30 years. Some of those fans hang out all day.
Kendall resident Sharon Shaw is one such customer. She spends the day at the market, which Shaw and her friends have dubbed the “magical tent,” munching on salads from the popular salad bar, vegan sushi rolls, fruit pies and chocolate brownies. Shaw and her friends love the market for its impressive selection of prepared foods.
“It’s unique; there is no other place like this out there,” Shaw said. “Any greens from Glaser Farms are outstanding. The food is made with such love and everything is so consistent.”
Stan Glaser, owner of Glaser Organic Farms and market organizer, boasts more than 30 years of South Florida farming experience. Glaser sports a full white beard, a weathered baseball cap, jeans and a T-shirt that reads “Fresh is Best.” Aloof at first, he manages a few subtle grins and bits of dry humor while discussing the history of the market’s location.
“This was back when the Grove was wild and unsettled,” Glaser said. “So, it was a good scene.” Like any good farmer, Glaser laments the possibility of more high-rise condos at his market’s present location and the surrounding area. But for now, at least, the land is used to nourish his grateful market customers.
In the Redland, Glaser Organic Farms sells health foods to grocers and markets all over the country. The list of buyers includes Whole Foods Market. The market, which has been around since 1978, was featured as a nationwide top organic market in a 2007 USA Today article. Glaser estimated that about half of the food sold at his market is locally grown, and about 1,000 customers shop at the market each Saturday — many of whom munch on one of Glaser’s highest selling plates, avocado salad. According to Glaser, about 95 percent of the food at the market is organic.
“On a decent day, you can’t even move in here,” Glaser said. “There are a lot of markets around but we’re the best one. We’re the biggest, oldest, and most dedicated.”
The Coconut Grove location has hosted Glaser’s market for about 20 years and, as convenient as it would be for Glaser to move south and closer to his farm, his loyal customer base keeps it anchored.
The market’s vendors run the gamut, from incredible Indonesian food from a tent called WarTeg, to mind-body therapy at Dr. Myra Miller’s Soul Sanctuary, where she nurtures souls.
“I am trained as a psychologist, but my real focus is the healing of the soul,” Miller explains, adding that she loves the Coconut Grove market. “This is an awesome place to be. There is a spiritual and conscience awareness here.”
Throughout the day, Glaser’s employees tend to customers and to the food stations, loading and unloading boxes of fresh produce.
“A big staff is required,” Glaser said. “It’s like bringing the circus to town.”
Recent hire Jazmin Checo, 26, wears a big smile, a head scarf and an apron.
“The kind of customers who come here are yogis, people who are transitioning from their average Latin cuisine, and have learned about this market from the Internet — anyone who wants to eat healthy,” Checo said. “People usually start at the salad bar — some of them get vegetarian nori rolls, sushi boxes, ice cream, and milkshakes.”
The homemade vegan “N’ice cream” is a labor of love, taking a few days to perfect the flavor and few hours of rough churning to form the texture. The result justifies the hard work; after tasting it, you will dream of the smooth, creamy wonder that is Banana Walnut N’ice Cream. Checo’s favorite is macadamia strawberry.
But like all foods at this market, almost better than the taste of the ice cream is the fact that you don’t collapse into a food coma after eating it.