The Fruit Factory

The Fruit Factory is on the highway to Tracy just a couple of miles on the left beyond the cutoff to I-5 South. It’s open only July-October (more or less) and is, in spite of its name, mostly a bean farm (most particularly beans that you can rarely buy fresh in the Bay Area – butterbeans, cranberry beans, black-eyed peas, and pintos) although they also have good tomatoes, okra, etc. Pick ’em yourself for the best bargain.

The first time I went there early one Saturday morning about ten years ago, I stood in stark contrast with all the other customers. None of the other customers was anywhere near my age. They were all either a lot older or a lot younger. And they were all black. And then I realized, who would be seeking fresh black-eyed peas and butterbeans and okra? Maybe somebody who grew up eating this stuff? And can’t find it in decent quality at the grocery store? And is retired and taking the grandkids “out to the farm” to harvest some of the good stuff?

So I went there every fall for several years, mainly to pick up crates of fresh pintos and cranberry beans. I brought them home, shelled them out, and blanched and froze them. It was a lot of work, but then for the following year I could serve them to deserving dinner guests. Then I discovered that the Iacopis at the San Mateo Farmers Market had superb Romanos and cranberry beans and Italian butter beans. And then I learned that the Iacopis were at both the Ferry Plaza and Justin Herman Plaza farmers markets right here in San Francisco.

So I stopped making my trips to The Fruit Factory, even though I do miss their wonderful tamales and that peach cobbler they served in their tiny little kitchen.

Note: In August 2002 I received their annual postcard listing available items. Apparently missing people like me, they’re trying to broaden their customer base, as in addition to the old favorites they now sell tuvor, guar, papadi, and valor papadi. Mother didn’t feed me none of them since they’re Indian vegetables.

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