Poll

How do you shop at farmer's markets?

Only buy when it is less than the grocery store, no matter the quality
8 (8.2%)
Only buy when it is the same price, same quality
13 (13.3%)
Only buy when it is the same price, better quality
24 (24.5%)
I'll spend up to 50% more for the same or better quality to support locals
46 (46.9%)
I'll spend >100% more
7 (7.1%)

Total Members Voted: 95

Author Topic: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?  (Read 13119 times)

Thegoblinchief

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Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« on: June 05, 2014, 02:35:41 PM »
Biked down to my city's biggest farmer's market. Not much besides flowers and veggie starts yet, and I'm not about to transport live plants in my backpack (trailer full of goblins).

One grower had asparagus that looked quite tasty, but it was $4 for a bunch that looked to be about a pound, if that. While I love asparagus, I typically only buy it at close to $1 a pound when it's in season at the standard grocers. I know this is probably healthier, etc.

I almost bought spinach from the same person, since it was a good deal, but I have some spinach already in the fridge, and my own spinach is coming in nicely.

So it got me thinking: what would other Mustachians pay? Does it depend on the particular fruit/veggie?

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2014, 02:44:31 PM »
I put up to 100% more but I don't know how accurate that is. Here's my situation: I rarely buy fruit or veg at the farmers market, because when they are growing it, I am too, so I spend basically no money on produce between May and October.

So when I DO go to the farmers market, its more like entertainment funds. I'll buy the kids each a peach and a bag of cherries, or I'll spring for the local hazelnuts or whatever, or we'll get a bunch of $10 flowers from the Hmong flower ladies. This is probably not a very mustachian thing to say, but I hardly consider the price. It's ALL a quality issue, because anything that beats my garden quality is rare, plus it's the entertainment of walking the market, talking to the farmers, trying rare and unusual fruit, etc, and we buy mostly what's just being eaten out of hand.

Now, when I buy 200 pounds of local tomatoes to preserve in August, I price compare the SHIT outta those and make sure I am getting the true direct-to-consumer price while supporting my local guy.

San

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2014, 02:47:56 PM »
That's a tough one. I voted I'd spend 50% more, but really I need a 'depends' option.

Depends on the quality. Depends on how unique, interesting, hard to find an item is. Depends on my mental budget/what else I've spent money on that week. Depends on the FM. Living where I do, there are A LOT of FM that cater to tourists, and I avoid these like the plague, being over priced and often not even local produce (which is lunacy to me). Typically, I'll pay more if the quality is at least as good, but more likely to if quality is better. But some things I will spend a lot more on. Local honey being the one that comes to mind because the guy I buy it from is literally two miles from my house and I like to support this dude who leaves his honey out in a closet on his porch, trusting people to leave money in exchange for the honey. That guy is awesome.

And I don't judge the quality of the produce necessarily by appearance. A lot of heirlooms, especially tomatoes and apples, look way weirder than the nice, perfect supermarket products, but with superior flavor. On the other hand, I can grow those awesome tomatoes. So do I pay a premium for them? Probably not. But things I can't grow, definitely.

Because of how much we grow, going to the farmer's market is either for things like a 50lb bag of potatoes ($8 at this one place and whoa nelly, even when I grow them, I can't grow them that cheap), 150lbs of tomatoes (.50/lb at a pick your own place) or specialty items. So it's more of a discretionary purchase for anything not in bulk.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2014, 02:54:26 PM »
Still in the "reading books" phase of learning to preserve. Don't even have a water bath canner but I can borrow my sister's, which can also pressure can.

RootofGood

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2014, 02:56:33 PM »
I voted "Only buy when it is less than the grocery store, no matter the quality".  I suppose at some level I'd be willing to pay a premium if the quality differential was real or it was hard to get fresh, high quality produce at the grocery store.  Peaches or strawberries come to mind as something that I might pay a premium for.  We did actually go pick our own strawberries and ended up paying $1.64/lb ($9 for a gallon which was 5.5 lbs per my scale).  We routinely get them for $1.19 per pound but they aren't quite as ripe. 

I never* go to the farmer's market because the prices aren't as good as the grocery store in general.  After all, the grocery store tends to buy produce that was grown at a farm.

If the produce is cheap, it's often local and in season (supplier transport costs increase if the produce isn't local).  Much of the stuff I get at the store is locally grown already.  I ignore locally grown as a buying factor, and will buy from wherever it's the cheapest as long as it's not a visible step down in quality or taste.  For example, I love avocados, and I guess they are in season somewhere thousands of miles from here because I see them on sale all the time.  You'd have to grow them in a greenhouse here, which is probably less efficient than growing them thousands of miles away and transporting them here. 

*I say I never go to the farmer's market, but I did actually go once a couple years ago after dining at a restaurant at the farmer's market.  We arrived right at closing time, and the folks selling zucchini wanted to clear out their stock.  We bought 4 bags full of zucchini, and most of it was good quality (a few banged and bruised ones or ones that had superficial blemishes or scars).  I think they asked for $1 per bag.  $4 for 20 lb of zucchini?  Sure!  Everything else ranged from god-awful expensive to moderately expensive and not locally grown (oranges from FL for example).  And this was at the relatively cheap farmer's market.  The fancy "farmers" market closer to me is ridiculously expensive and I've never even visited. 


Noodle

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2014, 02:59:07 PM »
Depends on the type of produce. There are certain things (stone fruits, strawberries, corn, tomatoes) that only taste good to me if recently picked as fully ripe. There are also some things I just can't find at the grocery store. I will pay quite a bit more for those. Otherwise, I usually try to stick to around grocery store prices (maybe not the loss leader sale, though).

I spent a lot of my childhood doing garden chores and I will happily give my hard-earned dollars to someone who sees farming as their calling. I have fulfilled my "lifetime farming quota."

marblejane

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2014, 03:01:33 PM »
The farmer's markets around here are incredibly expensive, so I haven't really bought anything. I have a great locally owned small grocer nearby that regularly beats the farmer's market produce prices.

Also, some vendors were charging $9 for a dozen eggs. I get that they are free range, organic, etc., but $9?!?!

sheepstache

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2014, 03:02:21 PM »
Would be nice to have option to choose multiple answers since I'll either buy when it's less than grocery store, regardless of quality, or I'll pay the same amount if it's better quality.

I think what you're getting at is whether people view farmer's markets as a way to save money or get higher quality and for me it's more about saving money (and I often find that FM's aren't a good place to save money where I live).
Exceptions include produce that isn't usually in grocery stores, for example jerusalem artichokes.  And honey, because I like to support local bees.

Eric

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2014, 03:02:59 PM »
I used to buy all my produce there in my pre-mustachian days.  And of course paid a premium for it.  Now that I've stopped doing that and cut my grocery bill by about half, it depends on the particular item for me.  I live 2 blocks from mine, and in CA, the farmers market has most everything the grocery/produce market has.  The prices are similar if not slightly higher for organic, but about 100% more than conventional.  But even this is variable across items.

That said, I cannot for the life of me find a good tomato at the store.  And my wife and I love tomatoes, especially the fancy heirloom varieties.  So I'll splurge and spend up to $4/lb for those as the quality is totally worth it.  I haven't found many other items where the quality is so noticeably different though, so besides that, I'm relying on price. 

I also get bread, honey, avocados, and a few seasonal items like figs or persimmons that are comparable in price. (actually, bread is cheaper and awesome)

Sometimes I feel bad about not supporting my local farmers like I used to, but of course I feel good about spending a lot less money, so it's a tradeoff. 

Threshkin

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2014, 03:11:28 PM »
So many "farmer's markets" have become non-mustachian enclaves of conspicuous spending.  The prices are outrageous and the "farmer" selling it most likely purchased the product wholesale.

Erica put it very well.  Money spent at farmer's markets is entertainment money.  It should not be considered grocery money in most cases.

That said, good deals can be found on occasion, you just need to be alert.  RootofGood was and got a great deal.  I have been able to get some decent deals on roasted peppers but most items are very over priced IMO.  The best thing about farmers markets is the chance to try and buy produce and other items that are not available in stores.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2014, 03:14:11 PM »
Sometimes I feel bad about not supporting my local farmers like I used to, but of course I feel good about spending a lot less money, so it's a tradeoff.

Good way of putting it. We're still in quite a bit of debt, so I think it will have to be lower price with rare exceptions.

It makes for a good "destination" bike ride, since my kids enjoyed walking around it, even though we didn't buy anything. I'm definitely never driving there. The $5 in mileage removes a lot of the locavore environmental benefits and I know I'd feel pressured to buy something to justify the driving cost.

The Borgs

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2014, 03:29:39 PM »
Our farmers market is so close it makes for a nice early Sunday morning walk. I'll buy any fruit or veg there I see at a bargain price (the odd time there's been bent zucchini or ripe bananas at 99c a kilo), other than that I buy Turkish bread fresh from the oven (same price as packaged at the supermarket), olives (dearer by about 50%, but best ever) and the odd novelty item (a treat for under $5 for us to enjoy that day).

There's far too much overpriced crap and nonsense at our farmers market, but I just avoid that.

GuitarStv

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #12 on: June 05, 2014, 03:31:00 PM »
I used to go to farmer's markets regularly.  The produce was decent and the prices were close to what's in stores.  In the last couple years though they've become trendy and the price of everything is about twice what it costs in grocery stores.  I don't make an effort to head out to farmers markets any more.

historienne

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #13 on: June 05, 2014, 03:34:36 PM »
I voted "same price/same quality" - but where I live, the farmers market is always as cheap or cheaper for organic stuff, and we try to buy as much organic as possible.  It's also almost always better quality. We live close to a big agricultural area, so there's not the kind of markup that I've seen in some major metro areas.

RootofGood

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #14 on: June 05, 2014, 03:41:23 PM »
I just yanked this from my recent article on saving money on groceries and it's a good summary of my produce consumption habits:

Quote
Our trick to getting the best value in the produce section is simply buying what is on sale each week.  Aldi is where we spend most of our grocery dollars.  Every week they offer six different produce items at a steep discount to their already low regular prices.  Some might think sticking to six different fruits or vegetables each week is a very restrictive way to shop for produce.

Not in our experience.  Within any eight day period, we can buy twelve different fruits or vegetables that Aldi has on sale, plus the produce sale items at other grocery stores we occasionally visit.  We also pay regular price for some produce items because we want them or need them for a particular recipe.  When most of the produce we buy is on sale, the average cost of our produce stays low.

Another benefit to going cheap and buying produce that is on sale is the freshness.  When grocers sell a large quantity of produce and the inventory moves quickly, the consumer wins.  When you pick up a sale-priced fruit or vegetable, odds are good that itís fresh.

Produce that is on sale can indicate peak ripeness.  When itís harvest time for a particular crop, there is a glut of supply that floods the market.  Economics 101 reminds us that increased supply pushes the price of a good down.

Sale pricing can also mean locally grown produce.  It costs a lot less to ship produce from fields 50 miles away than it does from the other side of the country 2,000 miles away or even further if imported from South America or further abroad.

Right now (in May), strawberries are in season in North Carolina.  Unsurprisingly, I see a lot of strawberries for sale in grocery store circulars.  You can notice the same trend with other produce like apples, oranges, and zucchini.  When itís harvest time nearby, you save money at the store and you get fresh, locally grown produce.  I always look forward to later in the summer when peaches mature here in the southeast.  Cheap and perfectly ripe?  Yes, please!

To those that still claim shopping mostly sale-priced produce is overly restrictive for their food demands, consider what markets offered a hundred years ago or more.  Produce shipped from the other side of the country or world was expensive (if available at all).  In the temperate areas of the U.S., stores offered very limited assortments of fresh produce outside of the spring, summer, and fall harvest periods for specific crops.  Buying a mango or avocado in the middle of January wasnít an option (at almost any price).

Today, the variety is always available, itís just a matter of paying more for out of season produce.  Shopping the produce sales is no different than shopping the seasonal offerings from the ďgoodĒ old days.

For me, price is the primary focus. 

Erica/NWEdible

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #15 on: June 05, 2014, 03:45:52 PM »
The farmer's markets around here are incredibly expensive, so I haven't really bought anything. I have a great locally owned small grocer nearby that regularly beats the farmer's market produce prices.

Also, some vendors were charging $9 for a dozen eggs. I get that they are free range, organic, etc., but $9?!?!

That price may barely cover the feed for the hens that lay the eggs, FYI. If it's not worth it to you, it's not worth it and that's cool - just saying the egg folks might not be screwing you as much as you think.

rocksinmyhead

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #16 on: June 05, 2014, 04:00:40 PM »
The farmer's markets around here are incredibly expensive, so I haven't really bought anything. I have a great locally owned small grocer nearby that regularly beats the farmer's market produce prices.

Also, some vendors were charging $9 for a dozen eggs. I get that they are free range, organic, etc., but $9?!?!

That price may barely cover the feed for the hens that lay the eggs, FYI. If it's not worth it to you, it's not worth it and that's cool - just saying the egg folks might not be screwing you as much as you think.

I've been super surprised to hear how much local eggs are some places. I've heard of even higher than $9/dozen!!! Ours are $4.50/dozen and yes I buy them during farmers market season even though the ones at the grocery store are way cheaper. I really like the people at that stand, I've bought delicious sausage and (apparently) delicious dog treats from them too. Dogs were banned from our market this year and the woman who works the stand loved our dog so freaking much (he used to come every week), now every time we go she gives us a couple dog treats in a baggie for him. So sweet.

Anyway, I answered "will pay up to 50% more..." It's really interesting, some things are a great deal at our market and some are terrible. I haven't been to many other markets (I think I went once when I lived in PA) but it sounds like ours must be pretty legit compared to some out there. Maybe it comes from being in a smaller city surrounded by agriculture? Anyway, the "track your grocery spending" challenges on here have really helped me to be aware of what a good price is for a lot of produce, so that's definitely helped make my farmers market a little more efficient. I definitely want to support these guys, but I will do it in the way that is most economical for me :) It's about a mile walk from our house and a nice way to spend an hour on Saturday morning, we almost always run into friends there (and when we used to bring our dog that was extra convenient!) Last time I got the world's largest bunch of swiss chard (no, seriously) for $2 and it was great. I've also had people offer me bargains at the end of the market for stuff they want to get rid of.

I don't usually buy meat there (other than occasionally sausage) because that is usually WAY more of a splurge than veggies. We also have a butcher who has great service and sells local meat and it's cheaper than most of the farmers market guys, so if I want to splurge on local meat I do it there.

Trudie

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #17 on: June 05, 2014, 04:45:34 PM »
Biked down to my city's biggest farmer's market. Not much besides flowers and veggie starts yet, and I'm not about to transport live plants in my backpack (trailer full of goblins).

One grower had asparagus that looked quite tasty, but it was $4 for a bunch that looked to be about a pound, if that. While I love asparagus, I typically only buy it at close to $1 a pound when it's in season at the standard grocers. I know this is probably healthier, etc.

I almost bought spinach from the same person, since it was a good deal, but I have some spinach already in the fridge, and my own spinach is coming in nicely.

So it got me thinking: what would other Mustachians pay? Does it depend on the particular fruit/veggie?
Asparagus is one of those veggies that largely grows below ground and has little pesticide contact, so I always buy conventional, if it's cheaper.  We have produce auctions where I live (mostly Mennonite and Amish folks) and I once bid on 20 pounds of the stuff and froze it.  Quite the story...

BlueHouse

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #18 on: June 06, 2014, 04:41:03 AM »
My local farmers market is a vital part of the neighborhood, so for me, it's important to shop there regularly. It's also touristy, so a lot of things can be severely overpriced. I know I overpay for some things, but to me it's worth it.
There are certain vendors that I love interacting with. From one, I sometimes buy a "salad kit". It's a bag with a head of leaf lettuce, some whole veggies and tomatoes thrown in. Whatever's fresh.
I also like to buy eggs from the Amish/Mennonite guy. Super friendly, I like to listen to his accent, and when his giant hands touch each tiny egg, it amazes me that he doesn't crush each one. When I hand him $4 for 1 dozen eggs and he has to get two quarters into his hulk of a hand to give change, I cannot take my eyes off those fingers. They are rusty orange like carrots that have just been pulled out of the ground and they are so big it looks like a catchers mitt. They are so rough that I think they would scratch if they touched me, but they never do. And I always make sure to brush my hand against his when he gives change. (Not in a creepy way)

There are also some hipster lettuce stalls. I like to look, but I don't buy.  I saw a guy pay 24 dollars for lettuce!  Granted, it was two bags stuffed, but how much can you eat before it goes bad? 

The salad guy,BTW, has hands that are soft and feminine. They look as if they've never done harder work than play the piano. If he's really working those lettuces himself, then it's indoor, under grow lights, and without soil. He cannot be working in dirt with hands like those.

Worsted Skeins

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #19 on: June 06, 2014, 05:18:38 AM »
Unfortunately there are more crafts than produce at my local farmer's market but it is an easy bike ride for me, one I make more to fill in then load up on produce.

That said, I buy little produce at the grocery store--and we eat tons of produce.  My trick is to buy directly from farmers via CSAs (I have a late spring/early summer CSA with one guy, an autumn CSA with another).  There are three farms in my county (a bit of a drive but along the way to other things) that have stands/stores.  We have two growing seasons extended by hoop houses so I am able to eat local produce for much of the year. Granted, I don't always have a great variety in say January.  This is when I am probably picking up some stuff at the grocer.

In general I pay less for produce through my CSA boxes and pick your own berries--although I suspect some of the loss leader items may be cheaper.  My local produce rarely goes bad.  This is the problem I have with the grocery store stuff.  It seems that some of it only lasts a few days or is tasteless to begin with.

Yesterday I bought a pint of organic blueberries at my co-op that I suspect were 50% more than traditional ones from the grocery. I paid the premium not for the organic but to support the local farmer. 

I am an egg snob.  I pay $4.50 for real eggs from the local farms--still inexpensive protein as far as I am concerned.

Farmer's markets may be pricey for items by the piece but I would inquire on quantity sales.  For example, I buy a bushel of sweet potatoes directly from a farmer every fall.

MayDay

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #20 on: June 06, 2014, 06:16:53 AM »
We grow a ton of our own veggies, but there are certain ones that I don't grow because I either have bad luck with them, they need too much space, my crop failed, etc.  like okra- and the only place I can get fresh okra is the FM, so a couple times a year I will buy it at basically any price. 

But if I was buying all my produce at the FM, my price threshold would be much lower.  Since I am buying a few certain speciality things, I don't mind paying more.  I do also find really good deal at times.  I also try to work out bulk deals, which I am very careful about.  I don't haggle on the set prices (farmer friends find this quite offensive) but I will happily ask the price if I buy their whole crate.  They are usually happy to unload it.  We can a lot, and I also freeze stuff, so it's worth it for us.

For example, last week I bought a bunch of fresh garlic.  Once a year, I am happy to pay 3$ for a tiny bunch. 

FIence!

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #21 on: June 06, 2014, 07:14:58 AM »
As has already been mentioned, it's disappointing when I schlep down to the farmer's market and find 90% of the stuff was actually grown in a faraway state. What's the point then? Is there any difference whatsoever between that and the grocery store produce once it's been transported to, presumably, a non-farmer distributor who brings it to the market?

My big exception for willing to make an effort or pay more is eggs, I absolutely will not under any circumstances buy those from a grocery store, and I'm willing to pay more for verified* free range eggs. But I sure as hell would never pay $9 a dozen (as someone else mentioned seeing) either... if that's what I had to pay locally for free range eggs, then we wouldn't eat eggs anymore. :)

ETA: *By verified free range, what I mean is that I am going in person and see chickens running around, not some "certified organic" seal on the package.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2014, 07:20:51 AM by FIence! »

Us2bCool

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #22 on: June 06, 2014, 07:57:09 AM »
We live in California, where the quality at the farmers market far exceeds that of the grocery stores (which inexplicably sell non-local produce...go figure?). The FM has an incredible variety of items for he same price or slightly higher, and many things you can't get anywhere else. One booth sells at least five varieties of bok choy. So every Saturday morning we cart down our rolling basket and fill it to the brim.

The exception is eggs. No way am I spending eight bucks a dozen for eggs, I don't care how fucking organic they are.

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #23 on: June 06, 2014, 08:22:43 AM »
You $8/dozen egg buyers would love my neighborhood.  We routinely get emails/messages on our neighborhood facebook page or email list with people offering to sell uberlocally produced eggs (in our backyards lol).  $3/dozen is the going rate from multiple neighbors.  One lady offers a subscription service - $4/dozen delivered to your door if you sign up for 5 weeks at a time. 

We also get emails that read something like "Be on the lookout - a fox or some animal got into our chicken coop and ate few of our prime layers :( ". 

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #24 on: June 06, 2014, 08:42:51 AM »
My wife and I recently started walking to our local farmers market on Thursday mornings. It's always an enjoyable activity, but the market itself is pretty disappointing. Not really many producers there. Maybe 3 farmers, 2 dairies, and the rest selling canned goods (jams, jellies, pickles, sauces) or silly craft items. But it's really easy to tell the farmers from the re-sellers. I only buy from the farmers.

We can get local milk for $5/gallon from the two dairies. It is pasteurized, but non-homogenized, and definitely a step-up in quality from the store-bought stuff that we can get for $4. So I pay 25% extra for the additional quality.

On produce, there's not a lot we need to buy because we grow so much ourselves. I buy onions at a significant discount to grocery store prices and carrots at a slight premium to grocery store prices. I can't grow onions to save my life, and our carrots won't be ready until July. I give not a crap about whether my produce is organic or not, so that doesn't factor in at all.

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #25 on: June 06, 2014, 09:05:38 AM »
The only markets I go to now are when I work them for a friend's bakery. I make a little $, but get to trade a fair amount of bread as part of the deal. I'm lucky that the bread is fairly pricey, so I usually walk away with a fair amount of produce. We grown our own greens, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, cabbage & broccoli & my wife works part time at a local farm co-op. All of these things help us eat the locally produced goods while not spending much money at all. I do value supporting these folks & if I made more money and had less time, I'd probably buy some of the things we now get for cheap/free.

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #26 on: June 06, 2014, 09:43:04 AM »
I go to our regional farmers market (as it calls itself) typically in the fall, and mostly to get pumpkins. At the local grocery store they charge $6 or more for what I can get at the market for $1-3. Between buying some for the kids to paint/carve, and some for me to cook, it is incentive enough for me to go down there. The other stuff seems reasonably priced, but by the time I get down there the quality is less than what I can get at my local store, so I'll buy other stuff while I'm down there, but we don't typically go in the summer. Also, I prefer paying via credit, and a lot of them don't take credit down there.

In my mind though, I go to the farmers market to cut out the middle man. I expect cheaper prices with similar quality as the grocery store (Wegmans), who loves to advertise how many miles away a given produce item was shipped from in the summer when they can get a lot of things local.

mm1970

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #27 on: June 06, 2014, 09:50:38 AM »
I voted "Only buy when it is less than the grocery store, no matter the quality".  I suppose at some level I'd be willing to pay a premium if the quality differential was real or it was hard to get fresh, high quality produce at the grocery store.  Peaches or strawberries come to mind as something that I might pay a premium for.  We did actually go pick our own strawberries and ended up paying $1.64/lb ($9 for a gallon which was 5.5 lbs per my scale).  We routinely get them for $1.19 per pound but they aren't quite as ripe. 

I never* go to the farmer's market because the prices aren't as good as the grocery store in general.  After all, the grocery store tends to buy produce that was grown at a farm.

If the produce is cheap, it's often local and in season (supplier transport costs increase if the produce isn't local).  Much of the stuff I get at the store is locally grown already.  I ignore locally grown as a buying factor, and will buy from wherever it's the cheapest as long as it's not a visible step down in quality or taste.  For example, I love avocados, and I guess they are in season somewhere thousands of miles from here because I see them on sale all the time.  You'd have to grow them in a greenhouse here, which is probably less efficient than growing them thousands of miles away and transporting them here. 

*I say I never go to the farmer's market, but I did actually go once a couple years ago after dining at a restaurant at the farmer's market.  We arrived right at closing time, and the folks selling zucchini wanted to clear out their stock.  We bought 4 bags full of zucchini, and most of it was good quality (a few banged and bruised ones or ones that had superficial blemishes or scars).  I think they asked for $1 per bag.  $4 for 20 lb of zucchini?  Sure!  Everything else ranged from god-awful expensive to moderately expensive and not locally grown (oranges from FL for example).  And this was at the relatively cheap farmer's market.  The fancy "farmers" market closer to me is ridiculously expensive and I've never even visited.
I am a regular farmer's market shopper and I also belong to a CSA.  I found that here, the CSA and farmer's market produce is about the same price but lasts a LOT longer than grocery store produce.  Depends on the item, of course.  Apples are a lot more expensive locally, because it's not an apple growing region.

Also, farmer's market and CSA tastes a lot better.

I wrote a blog post years ago on how to save money on produce.  Loss leaders, farmer's market, buying frozen, buying in season...all of that was covered.  These days I go for "simple" more than "cheap".  CSA is easy (hubby picks up on the way home).  Farmer's market is my Saturday "thing" (walk there with toddler in stroller - exercise + shopping!)

Cpa Cat

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #28 on: June 06, 2014, 10:00:36 AM »
The local farmer's market is a little inconvenient for me and I sometimes find the prices a bit shocking. I voted 50% more to support locals, but the truth is that I haven't been there in a couple of years. The prices at the farmer's market are a large contributing factor to my decision to grow my own garden.

How do I justify paying $4 for asparagus or $3 for a bag of leaf lettuce, when I can grow it for free (more or less) at home? And don't even get me started on herbs - which are insanely easy to grow and yet seem to command insanely high prices.

So for the very few items that I don't grow at home, I can't really excuse the inconvenience of driving across town, when I could walk to the grocery store and pick it up at half the price (or less!).

Gerard

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #29 on: June 06, 2014, 06:43:17 PM »
I have a distorted view of market prices because I grew up in Quebec, where farmer's markets are a way for farmers to eliminate greedy/inefficient middle-people and sell directly to end users for less, and where consumers treat them as a source of food, not picturesque entertainment.

I was shocked when I moved to English Canada and discovered how many urban farmer's  markets were the agricultural equivalent of Etsy: a way for first-generation organic dabblers and "foragers" to get people to subsidize their inefficient hobbies. Why no, blank-eyed earnest neo-hippies, I do not want to pay $3.50 for two stalks of your parsley. And, by the way, that's second-year parsley, about to go to seed, and isn't meant to be fed to humans. You should have paid more attention when you were WWOOFing in Belgium.

</rant>

Wow, being grumpy is tiring. I don't know how so many people do it.

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #30 on: June 06, 2014, 07:10:51 PM »
I use farmers markets for discovery and palate expansion.

I browse and look for things I haven't cooked before and ask the farmers what you do with their weird veg!  If it sounds good, then maybe I'll buy some and give it a try.  It's easier to file the cost as education as well as food!

I also sometimes will get rare and heirloom varieties of vegetables simply because I enjoy cooking and eating them.  These are things that a normal grocery wouldn't have in a million years.

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #31 on: June 06, 2014, 07:54:34 PM »
I have a distorted view of market prices because I grew up in Quebec, where farmer's markets are a way for farmers to eliminate greedy/inefficient middle-people and sell directly to end users for less, and where consumers treat them as a source of food, not picturesque entertainment.

I was shocked when I moved to English Canada and discovered how many urban farmer's  markets were the agricultural equivalent of Etsy: a way for first-generation organic dabblers and "foragers" to get people to subsidize their inefficient hobbies. Why no, blank-eyed earnest neo-hippies, I do not want to pay $3.50 for two stalks of your parsley. And, by the way, that's second-year parsley, about to go to seed, and isn't meant to be fed to humans. You should have paid more attention when you were WWOOFing in Belgium.

Oh, this is music to my ears!  We're headed to Quebec for a month this summer, and always on the lookout for ways to save money.  I saw a lot of farmer's markets in the guidebooks and dismissed them as all expensive, touristy money traps.  I'll have to rethink that and check out the local farmer's markets. 

On a related note about groceries, I saw viande chevaline in a salespaper for a grocery store up there.  After slowly translating that in my head, I realized I will be able to eat some horse meat and check off something else from my list of things I want to eat before I die. 

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #32 on: June 06, 2014, 09:06:09 PM »
I have a strawberry farm 2 miles away with prices that are a little more than the grocery store, but the selection for both size and quality is unbelievable. We can buy awesome large strawberries for chocolate-dipping, medium ones for baking and little ones for pancakes/waffles/homemade cereal during peak season. During peak strawberry season, it's hard to believe I even had a strawberry allergy when I was a kid.

The same farm runs a large produce stand before, during, and after strawberry season with veggies from their produce farm further away in the same county. Again, the prices are modestly higher (although not organic, but I don't mind), but the selection for the veggies that we typically eat is incomparable around here. Of course, we're not gourmet veggie consumers...we're down-home folks who appreciate pintos, greens, and sweet potatoes.

Several of my friends are jealous that my neighborhood has all the advantages of town living with access to such a great slice of rural America just down the road.


 

Gerard

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #33 on: June 06, 2014, 09:14:02 PM »
I have a distorted view of market prices because I grew up in Quebec, where farmer's markets are a way for farmers to eliminate greedy/inefficient middle-people and sell directly to end users for less, and where consumers treat them as a source of food, not picturesque entertainment.
Oh, this is music to my ears!  We're headed to Quebec for a month this summer, and always on the lookout for ways to save money.  I saw a lot of farmer's markets in the guidebooks and dismissed them as all expensive, touristy money traps.  I'll have to rethink that and check out the local farmer's markets. 

Some are better than others, but I hope you can hit the Jean-Talon market in Montreal. There's some good eating in the neighbourhood, too.

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #34 on: June 07, 2014, 08:58:48 AM »
Some are better than others, but I hope you can hit the Jean-Talon market in Montreal. There's some good eating in the neighbourhood, too.

We'll definitely check out the market.  The kids will love it, even if we don't buy more than a snack or a meal.  From looking at google maps, I saw tons of restaurants scattered around there, so we might come back to the neighborhood around there a few times since it's just a few miles from where we are staying. 

ijingle

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #35 on: June 08, 2014, 06:18:34 PM »
Californians seem to have the epic farmer's markets with fabulous selection and reasonable or cheap (by cutting out the middle man) prices. Not the case at my local FM in Colorado. It's pricey. Artis-anal vendors and food trucks dominate for half the year until there's enough produce available to put the "farmer" in farmer's market. Even then, you have to know your prices or it's way easy to overpay. The free samples are nice, but it's starting to get a Costco vibe. All that said, I do enjoy the aspect of it being a nice Sunday morning stroll destination.

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #36 on: June 13, 2014, 12:01:48 PM »
I used to sell at FM before I switched to marketing my veggies via a CSA. It is interesting for me to read the comments here and see the poll results! In my location--ND--I found FM selling extremely frustrating. It felt like customers wanted me to give the stuff away. CSA turned out to be a better model for both farmer and participants, in my view. I obviously can grow most of my own food so I don't shop FM, but the stuff I do buy commercially needs to be (for me) from sound, sustainable practices whether farmed or manufactured or I won't buy it. The other side benefit is that this keeps me closer to the need rather than want side of my desires.

RootofGood

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #37 on: June 14, 2014, 02:22:48 PM »
I used to sell at FM before I switched to marketing my veggies via a CSA. It is interesting for me to read the comments here and see the poll results! In my location--ND--I found FM selling extremely frustrating. It felt like customers wanted me to give the stuff away. CSA turned out to be a better model for both farmer and participants, in my view. I obviously can grow most of my own food so I don't shop FM, but the stuff I do buy commercially needs to be (for me) from sound, sustainable practices whether farmed or manufactured or I won't buy it. The other side benefit is that this keeps me closer to the need rather than want side of my desires.

Interesting comment - "It felt like customers wanted me to give the stuff away".  Maybe your customers expected competitive pricing for produce?  Maybe they expected a slight discount versus the grocery store prices since they were "cutting out the middle man" so to speak? 

You were probably feeling the competitive pressures from other producers of similar goods who were able to capitalize on economies of scale to bring less costly produce to market (FM or grocery store). 


Mayan

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #38 on: June 14, 2014, 04:07:45 PM »
I'm in TX and have found the local farmer's markets fairly disappointing - much higher prices and rarely a discernible difference in quality from the local HEB.  I occasionally drop by one when I'm walking the dog on Sunday mornings, but sticker shock usually keeps me from purchasing anything.  Then again, I currently plan most of my meals around what produce is on sale at the grocery store and don't care about organic, so I'm working from a pretty cheap basis of comparison. 

Caoineag

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #39 on: June 14, 2014, 08:28:37 PM »
Coloradan here. Its hard for a farmer's market to compete with my local grocery store (Sprouts). I can even buy heirloom vegetables there and over 50% of the floor space is for produce. I would love to do a CSA for dairy or egg purposes but my schedule would have to be more reasonable for the pickup times and locations. Still, I like going to farmer's markets so I need to check out my local one tomorrow so will let you know then what my price threshold is. :)

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #40 on: June 15, 2014, 11:06:00 AM »
Just went to one of our local farmer's market and bought very expensive local honey but my husband and I have allergies and that is not something we can get anywhere. So I think my answer is that I would buy when I can't get it anywhere else. I honestly suspect there is more local produce at my grocery store than at the farmer's market I just went to...

Rachelocity

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #41 on: June 15, 2014, 04:28:26 PM »
Quote
Some are better than others, but I hope you can hit the Jean-Talon market in Montreal. There's some good eating in the neighbourhood, too.

Yes, there is!  In fact I was there this very afternoon.  I had delicious ceviche at El Rey Del Taco, bought 100% rye bread from Wawel, cheeses  from Fromagerie Hamel & fruits and veggies, including salad stuff, mixed radishes, avocados for $1.00 a pop, peaches, the Best Mangoes in the World (according to the vendor) honey dew melon and local strawberries.  The season hits its peak next weekend, which means that in 3 weeks I will be back to buy berries for jam-making, using my mom's recipe.   

Entertainment consisted of a clown who was being ignored and the guitar-playing busker who has the long-haired tabby cat. 

zinnie

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #42 on: June 15, 2014, 04:49:57 PM »
I go there every week and buy what looks good/ is in season. I put 100% because a lot of it is at least double if not more than Costco prices. Some stuff like apples, oranges, and avocados are competitive to the local grocery stores when they are in season. But, I don't really think about it. We're comfortable with our grocery bill and I wouldn't give up our sunny Sunday walks to the farmer's market just to save more money every month.

Plus, if you show up 15 minutes before closing a lot of stuff is sold for half off.

daverobev

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #43 on: June 15, 2014, 06:19:49 PM »
I didn't reply because honestly I don't go.

I have interned on an organic farm (which did both markets and CSA), and I had their CSA box the following year... and I helped run a tiny CSA last year too.

I'll say one thing - markets and CSAs are more expensive because they are bloody hard work. You're paying your local wage (or subsidising training in the case of interns... which is not really something I believe in, but if the interns were paid the prices would be even higher), rather than... well, most of the world's garlic is grown in China. Like, 80% or something crazy.

Growing food for market is hard. You have to have what people want - ideally before your competition - and you sell the best produce at the lowest price (because when you have lots at peak, so does everyone else!).

Modern agriculture... well. In terms of grocery store eggs, never never never. Have you seen the lives of commercial hens? It is... inhumane. Alas, I succumb to the occasional Tim Horton's Sausage and Egg Muffin but god, the poor hens.

Go and watch... oh, I don't know, there are a bazillion films about it, and we just don't give a shit, it's depressing.

We used to spend like 30% of our budget ('we' meaning historically, humanity, not me personally) on food. I currently spend about $40 a week for 2 of us (plus what I can grow in the garden). It's slightly crazy, the prices for some things, once you see what is hard (broccoli, celery) and what is easy (kale) to grow.

Gerard

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #44 on: June 26, 2014, 06:20:11 PM »
My family (until my generation) were market gardeners and dairy farmers, and it is hard work. But then again, so are a lot of other things, and growing vegetables can be done with a grade six education. I imagine it's hard to grow and sell enough to earn a mainstream North American size return from a small-scale farm. But in Canada, supermarkets charge such a markup for produce that market vendors should be able to compete and make a reasonable living. When Dominion or Safeway charge $2-3 for a pathetic wee clump of basil or mint, I'm happy to hit Jean-Talon and give the same amount to a farmer for a big bunch of the stuff. And she's probably happy to sell it to me, as basil and mint are basically weeds that need very little attention. In a big organized market, 200 sales a day like that means a thousand bucks.
What gets up my nose is the dabblers and second-career people, with a tiny little veggie patch, who show up at the St. John's hippie market and expect me to pay a shit-ton for sad, sad parsley, because they think they deserve the same hourly wage for their listless weeding as they used to make at the bank.
Hmm, maybe I should stop complaining and find a way to get on that gravy train. My girlfriend's garden is over-run with volunteer lettuce right now...

MayDay

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Re: Poll: what's your farmer's market price threshold?
« Reply #45 on: June 26, 2014, 06:38:23 PM »
I think I should be more grateful for my FM- they have strict rules about where the farmers can live (within 50 miles) and all value added people (Jams, salsa, baked goods) have to be within the same distance, have to do the cooking themselves, and cannot also have a retail outlet.  No reselling is allowed. 

I will ditto that high egg prices aren't shocking.  The farmers I know that sell for 3-4$/dozen are losing money on their hens.  We do an egg CSA for 4$ a dozen, for 25 weeks every summer.  I consider that a good deal!