Author Topic: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food  (Read 4063 times)

dragonwalker

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Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« on: April 02, 2015, 12:58:37 AM »
So starting last year I really worked hard on getting in better shape and exercising a lot more. I lost a lot of weight and I feel and look much better. One thing I've noticed though is that it seems to drive the cost of food up for me at least.

For the past 10 months or so I've also been going every weekend to the farmer's market to buy food for the week. I buy a lot of greens, fruits, vegetables and some specialty foods. It usually costs about $60 cash and this is without any meat which I'll buy at the market with some other goods for a total of an additional $15. This $75 per week is technically enough for all my meals during the week but last a bit longer because I might have a few meals elsewhere.

Does this allocation for food seem reasonable for a single person? At the farmer's market I can't use credit for most of my purchases so I don't get any credit card rewards and most items are more expensive but they do tend to taste better and presumably are healthier.

Gerard

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #1 on: April 02, 2015, 05:46:54 AM »
I know some people who buy organic versions of about ten items where it makes the biggest difference (i.e., where the conventional version is the most pesticided and fertilized).

Could you do the same for taste/nutrition? Use the supermarket for things that aren't that much better at the market? Maybe root veg, cabbage, etc? Then go to the market for stuff that's full of amazing when it's fresh and local, like strawberries or tomatoes.

My market-going varies by city and market quality/price (Montreal awesome, most of English Canada entitled hippie hobby farmers), but the things I always try to buy at the market are green onions (because you can use the whole green), basil, garlic (way more intense!), and weird tomatoes.

Retired To Win

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #2 on: April 02, 2015, 06:54:14 AM »
The so-called farmers market in my town always turns out to be far pricier than the local grocery store.  I know farmers market products are supposed to be better.  But if part of the objective is to be more cost efficient with my food buying, our farmers market is not the answer.

NotJen

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2015, 07:34:02 AM »
Since I started eating pretty exclusively whole foods and local, my grocery spending has increased a lot.  I don't know why people think farmer's markets are cheap, because in general they are not, except for a few things (I'm thinking greens, maybe).  I'm not looking to stop doing this to save money, because I really enjoy the way I eat.  But I do make sure that I spend wisely and there is NO food waste.  I spend more money on food than a lot of people, because it is important to me.

I don't actually buy organic, and I don't believe that local/organic is really any healthier than 'generic' whole foods.  But it does taste a whole heck of a lot better, and I prefer to support my local economy instead of the industrialized food industry.  I know that many families cannot afford to buy local, but since I can, I do.

Quote
Could you do the same for taste/nutrition? Use the supermarket for things that aren't that much better at the market? Maybe root veg, cabbage, etc?
Oh, man.  Root vegetables are a million times better at the farmer's market!  Can't wait for ours to start back up for fresh radishes!  (Not to mention carrots, beets, turnips...)

lpep

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #4 on: April 02, 2015, 07:44:27 AM »
I used to subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture) box before I moved abroad, and I actually found that my grocery spending decreased. This was pre-MMM and I definitely was one of those folks who would go to the grocery store with a list of three things and come out with ten. So - avoiding a trip by getting a CSA actually really helped me, plus it was fun, and beautiful produce!

Is that an option for you? I'm all about spending money locally whenever possible, and it sounds like the health benefit alone makes it worth the cost for you.

MayDay

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2015, 08:03:29 AM »
I would say our farmers market is more expensive overall, but there is the odd bargain when something is in season and e farmers are overrun with it. 

The quality and taste is loads better, and I prefer to know what chemicals are sprayed on my food.  My other big issue is farmworkers rights.  That is a huge, huge issue, and i guess you could say I spend a little more on local foods as my charity donation. 

Long article that talks about the situation in Mexico:  http://graphics.latimes.com/product-of-mexico-camps/

Don't kid yourself that it's much better in the US. 

So, yah, if I can afford it, I should put my money where my values are.  Of course I also do Mustacian things to reduce the cost- I work one day a week for a local farm, and get any perishable leftovers free, and I get to go pick the "bad" stuff for free- like peppers with rotten spots.  Plus it's super fun, so it's a win-win. 

choppingwood

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #6 on: April 02, 2015, 08:20:07 AM »
I started eating a lot more produce when I cut out most sugar a year and a half ago. I love the farmer's market, but the prices are way too high for me every week. I've have belonged to a CSA, which is great for freshness, but at the moment not for price.

I find the best prices by far are at a local chain of produce stores. (Its motto is Fresh for Less.) You should also check out Asian grocery stores.

Failing that, I'd do a price/quality check on your top produce purchases at several different supermarkets, and make a separate trip, if the lowest prices don't match what is best on your other grocery purchases.

Great job on the changes you've made!

catccc

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #7 on: April 02, 2015, 09:06:49 AM »
Farmers' Markets can really vary, and vendors within a market can really vary.  I think $300 a month for one person is on the high side, but I also think it is important to eat sustainably raised whole foods.  Maybe cut back on whatever you call "specialty" products?  Those are usually pricey at markets.  Get to know the vendors.  It is a growers only market?  If it isn't, you might be paying more for the same stuff that is at the grocery store.  Some markets that aren't strict about growers only rules allow vendors to resell items purchased at auction.

In general, fruits and veggies at the farmers markets in SE PA are comparable to grocery store prices.  I know a particular farm that prices things so that people use them reliably as a food source, not just as a special treat.  The owners want their tasty well grown food to be the norm for their customers.  I can't really eat grocery store apples any more, at least not the run of the mill varieties that sit in storage forever before even hitting the supermarket shelves. And tomatoes?  Forget about it, I only buy them in season at the market (or grow my own).  You can transport a ripe tomato without damaging it very easily.  The ones at the grocery store are likely picked green and then turned red with ripening gasses before hitting the shelves.

Sibley

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #8 on: April 02, 2015, 09:31:44 AM »
Do you have the option to grow any of your own veggies, fruits or herbs?

Even if you can only do some small pots, you might be able to do some. Plus, if you get started, it'll be good to learn and if you can expand in the future you'll already have the mindset.

2Birds1Stone

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #9 on: April 02, 2015, 09:32:20 AM »
*Versus

MissPeach

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #10 on: April 03, 2015, 02:02:53 PM »
I believe people all spend money on something. Some people are more into food. Others more into hobbies. I don't think your budget is obscene if you value fresh, local, whole foods. Other people may have cheaper bills but may prefer processed foods.

My local farmers market is more expensive or the same as my local market. I do like the farmers market because I feel the items I buy I get a better product.

Some things I do to cut down costs:

1. Find vendors you want to buy from regularly. I often get free items thrown in or they cut a few dollars off the price for me because I am a regular customer.

2. Consider non-organic vendors - especially for items that don't carry large pesticide resides or don't have a GMO variety. There are several vendors at my market that farm organically but they don't want to spend the money to go through certification. I tend to find these vendor's prices much lower. Don't be afraid to ask them questions about what they use, where they buy seeds, etc. I tend to find the small family farms have the best deals. My favorite one is a husband and wife who own a few acres around their house on the edge of my county. They are not only sweet and love to talk about their products but they also are half the price of the large organic farms at my market.

3. Be wary of specialty vendors. I have seen some good and bad ones here. In terms of bad ones, I have seen people repackage food from Costco to sell. Just be careful here to make sure you get what you're paying for.

4. If you are the type of person who can cook well based on what is on hand consider a CSA. These can be cheaper. These can also be a rip off. Check the farm's policies of being able to trade items you don't like or use. Some farms are very accommodating and some aren't. I tend to only go this route if I like the types of items the farm plants and they allow me some ability to define what I get. There are two large organic farms in my area. One is really flexible and plants a wide range of produce. The other isn't flexible and mostly plants greens.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2015, 02:12:25 PM by MissPeach »

SilveradoBojangles

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #11 on: April 03, 2015, 02:31:25 PM »
I used to subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture) box before I moved abroad, and I actually found that my grocery spending decreased. This was pre-MMM and I definitely was one of those folks who would go to the grocery store with a list of three things and come out with ten. So - avoiding a trip by getting a CSA actually really helped me, plus it was fun, and beautiful produce!

Is that an option for you? I'm all about spending money locally whenever possible, and it sounds like the health benefit alone makes it worth the cost for you.

I second the CSA! Do you live in an area where this is available, even for part of the year? I'm on the west coast so we get one year round. 20$ a week for beautiful organic produce, usually 8-10 items. Our friends routinely compliment the taste of our veggies (lettuce is crisper and sweeter, etc.). It can be challenging to a) come up with recipes for the things we've never had before (but that is part of the fun), and b) to eat it all before the next batch arrives (harder in the winter, when there are tons of root veggies and leafy greens).

If that is not an option, here are 2 ways to reduce your spending:
1) Visit the farmer's market late in the day, when farmers are ready to wheel and deal to get rid of their produce.
2) Buy multiple products from one vendor. They will often give you a discount if you are buying a bunch of stuff.
3) Buy from the same people over and over again. They will get to know you and give you deals.
4) Consider getting a job selling at the market for one of the vendors. I have a number of friends who have given up their sat or sun mornings to do this. For them it's not about the pay, it's about getting to know the other vendors, because they all trade products at the end of the day, and so they take home tons of produce.

bludreamin

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Re: Farmer's Market Versis Supermarket Food
« Reply #12 on: April 03, 2015, 07:18:04 PM »
I used to subscribe to a CSA (community supported agriculture) box before I moved abroad, and I actually found that my grocery spending decreased. This was pre-MMM and I definitely was one of those folks who would go to the grocery store with a list of three things and come out with ten. So - avoiding a trip by getting a CSA actually really helped me, plus it was fun, and beautiful produce!

Is that an option for you? I'm all about spending money locally whenever possible, and it sounds like the health benefit alone makes it worth the cost for you.

I second the CSA! Do you live in an area where this is available, even for part of the year? I'm on the west coast so we get one year round. 20$ a week for beautiful organic produce, usually 8-10 items. Our friends routinely compliment the taste of our veggies (lettuce is crisper and sweeter, etc.). It can be challenging to a) come up with recipes for the things we've never had before (but that is part of the fun), and b) to eat it all before the next batch arrives (harder in the winter, when there are tons of root veggies and leafy greens).

If that is not an option, here are 2 ways to reduce your spending:
1) Visit the farmer's market late in the day, when farmers are ready to wheel and deal to get rid of their produce.
2) Buy multiple products from one vendor. They will often give you a discount if you are buying a bunch of stuff.
3) Buy from the same people over and over again. They will get to know you and give you deals.
4) Consider getting a job selling at the market for one of the vendors. I have a number of friends who have given up their sat or sun mornings to do this. For them it's not about the pay, it's about getting to know the other vendors, because they all trade products at the end of the day, and so they take home tons of produce.

I third the CSA! I decided not to do it this year because I got overwhelmed last year and ended up filling my freezer with extra veg (although I am almost out), plus this year I expect to by busier with travel/work. So instead, I'll visit the "farmer's markets" in the area and employ suggestions 1-3 in the quote above as I've had success with that in the past. I just have to be aware and ask questions to be sure the person I'm dealing with actually is a farmer.  It pisses me off to no end that the market organizer's allow distributors to have stalls because, seriously - bananas? where do you have those growing here in the NE? in March? at least bananas obviously don't below. What seriously got my blood boiling was when I visited last year during/around berry season and it was first thing in the morning and saw vendors opening up plastic clam-shells full of berries and dumping them in the bushel style baskets. this just seemed so deceptive and dishonest to me.