In the past the Fresno Grizzlies (Class AAA; Pacific Coast League) have attracted attention for extreme food items and promotions, but Farm Grown Fridays might be their most notable offering.
Within the last several years, the Grizzlies have generated headlines for offerings such as Taco Truck Tuesdays, the Wild Things food truck, and the addition of menu items such as Frankenslice–a pizza with a hot dog stuffed crust. While those were met with a positive reception, the focus on sustainability, healthy food items, and local agricultural that comes with Farm Grown Friday has resonated with the team’s fan base.
Farm Grown Friday is essentially a farmer’s market within the ballpark. For every Friday home game, the Grizzlies open up Chukchansi Park to local vendors who sell non-traditional ballpark fare such as fruit and vegetables. The initiative was started by the Grizzlies Community Fund three years ago, and has received positive feedback from vendors and consumers. More from Civil Eats.com:
In a part of California that has long struggled with poor health outcomes and a lack of access to fresh and unprocessed foods, the market—started three years ago by the team’s community fund—is an attempt to provide fresh fruits and vegetables to fans while simultaneously promoting the region’s major industry.
“It’s catering to the more health-oriented demographic,” said Camilio Vasquez, who was selling “ass kickin’ ginger” and other specialty almonds at the Fat Uncle Farm stand poised above third base on a recent Friday. “This kind of atmosphere at a ballpark alleviates the temptation one might feel to stray,” he said, meaning gravitating to junk food.
Although the Grizzlies are better known for Taco Tuesdays, a food truck fiesta to which many fans show up wearing foam taco-shaped hats, the farmers’ market has become a novelty for fans and a welcome diversion for those not riveted by every play. For the 15 or so olive oil producers, stone fruit growers, and other vendors, it’s a chance to raise their profile and educate an audience who might not routinely frequent farmers’ markets.
While extreme food items may still be dominated by entries such as loaded hot dogs and burgers, more teams around the minors are throwing healthier options into the mix. PETA, for instance, does an annual ranking of vegetarian-friendly ballparks, and some teams are also adding healthier and gluten-free menu items. Perhaps, though, the trend in Fresno will spread to other markets.