&Quot&#59;I Hate The Farmer'S Market!&Quot&#59; - Kitchen Experiences of a Student Blog at Allrecipes.com - 194061

Kitchen Experiences of a Student

"I hate the Farmer's Market!" 
Sep. 7, 2010 12:49 pm 
Updated: Sep. 9, 2010 8:08 am
“I hate the Farmer’s Market!”

... so says my boyfriend. I love the atmosphere there, and the prepared food you can get for lunch, and the handmade craft and jewellery booths, and the buskers everywhere. But I don’t love shopping for groceries there.

I’m pretty spoiled in groceries. We shop every week at the same store, and because my boyfriend works for the company that runs it, we get 10% off everything they sell except liquor. We do our main shopping there, and if we need to pick up something extra that we forgot, or that was unplanned, we go to the store that’s a 10 minute walk from our house. It’s more expensive there, especially since we don’t get the discount, so it’s only for special occasions. If we run out of produce mid-week we head to Chinatown – a 15 minute walk from our place. Every now and then we treat ourselves to something special or fancy from the Italian market we pass on the way to our home grocery store – last week we bought fresh-made pasta and a zucchini the size of my arm.

So, we have a system down pat for feeding ourselves. Being a starving student the system is of course based around cost – our priorities in buying groceries are cheapness, then convenience, then quality (not that we really sacrifice quality – our home store has great stuff, just not as good as some other pricier places), then supporting local growers.

This past weekend we were in a more generous, wealthy, and do-gooder mood. We both got paid two days ago, so the bank was full, and we didn’t really need any groceries other than produce. How about a trip to the farmer’s market for some beautiful produce! I really wish I’d had a receipt from a regular week of groceries at our regular store, so I could compare prices more confidently, but let me tell you, the farmer’s market was at least triple the price on nearly everything we saw.

At our regular store we pay between $1.99 and $2.49 a pound for bell peppers, depending on the season. The farmer’s market price: $4.99/lb. Cherries at a roadside stand here cost $5 a bag. Farmer’s market: $6.50. We paid $1.20 for two medium zucchinis last week. We saw some at the market, $1.25 each.

I understand these are small businesses and that they sell organic & pesticide-free food, but until they lower the prices I can’t afford to support that, much as I might want to. What really irks me is that most of these things weren’t even local – for the most part the closest was BC (I live in Alberta). The peppers were all grown in the States, and lots of the fruit was from Mexico – it’s the same stuff I can get at my local grocery store, without paying three or more times the price. I guess I can’t be too upset by the non-local produce, though; this is Calgary, after all, where the growing season is barely 4 months and even then it rarely gets above 25 degrees.

“I hate the farmer’s market”, my boyfriend said as we were leaving. We had been so excited to get some high-quality produce, to make our dinner tonight with hand-picked vegetables and tomorrow’s breakfast with beautiful carefully-grown fruit, only to be driven off by nasty pricetags carrying pitchforks. We didn’t come away completely empty handed, though – we bought some interesting varieties of hot peppers that we’d never seen before at our home store (Apple, Cherry, and “ring of fire” peppers – the BF is going to make a spicy sauce with them, I’ll post about it next time!).

And we also added to our grocery scheme: we have decided to spend what we used to spend on meat (before going mostly-veg) only on high-quality meats and fish and cheeses from the farmer’s market. This will help us cut down on meat even more, and what we do eat will be better quality and more supportive of local farmers. We’ll have to work out exactly how much that budget is, and we hope to stop in at the Calgary Farmer’s Market at least once a month to support local growers and make dinner with a better than average cut of meat. Meat is one of the things that really DOES come from around here.
Sep. 7, 2010 1:27 pm
Much produce offered at farmers markets is not locally grown. Many enterprising people are buying from a distributor and set p a stand at the farmers market and resell it. Whatever you want to call the practice is up to you. Don't feel discouraged because you can't afford to buy there.
Sep. 7, 2010 3:05 pm
Sounds like you've picked the wrong market. We live in Arizona and are luckier than most for local choices, but there are always imported things that don't grow well here - like berries or peaches. Maybe you should understand the reality a bit. You live in Canada which isn't known for growing things like peppers, which require alot of sun and heat, so the fact that they are imported shouldn't come as a big surprise. You wouldn't expect to find oranges labeled "Grown in Canada" would you? I think if you go to your local Organic market, the produce you find there is indicative of what you'd normally find in the farmers markets. Maybe look for a CSA if you have them in Canada. We have them here in the states and it's a good opportunity to support your local farming community and try new things.
Sep. 7, 2010 3:07 pm
I just reread my post.. it wasn't meant to sound snotty.. so sorry! LOL, you have to be careful how you word things and I should have changed that before publishing.
Sep. 7, 2010 6:19 pm
I actually completely agree with you. Lately I have been trying very hard to cook healthier for my husband and I...I've been trying to use lean proteins, eliminating as much processed foods as possible, and incorporating as many fresh fruits and vegetables as possible. We live in Tennessee and our Farmer's Market is the same way...greatly overpriced to our regular supermarket and most of the produce isn't locally grown anyway...Most of it comes from Mexico or California...and again, we live in Tennessee so I don't know why tomatoes, corn, and other veggies perfectly capable of growing right here are imported...I was so disappointed with the Farmer's Market here...but I think it's just the luck of the draw...I've been to great Farmer's Markets in other cities. I was lucky to find a roadside stand that is actually operated by a family who owns their own farm...it is actually locally grown produce, not just bought from a distributer. They are very reasonable and comparable to my grocery store...If you ask around, you may be able to find a place where you can get great produce at a reasonable price.
Sep. 7, 2010 8:48 pm
It IS expensive! Buy what you can afford and don't feel bad.
Sep. 8, 2010 4:23 am
BellesAZ suggestion to find a CSA is excellent. Wish I had remembered it!
Sep. 8, 2010 4:31 am
I've too had some similar experiences even here in Florida. I've kept looking until finally came across some small places that really do "grow their own". By the way, what is CSA? Hope you're feeling better, Mike!
Sep. 8, 2010 7:32 am
I live in a very rural town outside of Austin called Manor and the ones in surrounding small small towns are amazing! Zuc for .25, eggs, 1$ per doz, tomatoes .50 a pound, peppers for free sometimes, etc. Anything in a big city/ non-growing area is going to be expensive and trendy.
Sep. 8, 2010 3:53 pm
I'm proud to say I live in British Columbia, Canada. Honest folks, we have a lovely mild climate here. Canada is not the great white frozen north so many seem to think. I'm less than 10 minutes from 3 local farms that grow everything you can think off. I'm 5 minutes away from the local farmers market where I can buy fresh produce, fantastic breads, organic eggs, chickens, jams, pickles etc etc. I can walk to my local docks where I can buy fresh salmon, Halibut, Spot Prawns, shrimp & other fresh seafood right off the fishing boats. And yes, believe it or not, its warm enough here to grow prize winning green, red, purple, yellow, orange, white, mild, hot, hotter & extremely hot, peppers! : )
Sep. 8, 2010 4:14 pm
Yes, parts of Canada are great for growing - our farmer's market is nearly entirely made up of produce from BC and California :) But my BF's mom has managed to grow peppers, zucchinis, cucumbers, a variety of lettuce, onions, and carrots every year - and yet Calgary-grown produce isn't in our farmer's market. Anyways, I'm not as broken up about it as I come across in this blog - I'm a little disappointed but not angry, and I know that there are enough people shopping there to support the stuff that IS local, so they're doing ok. Occasionally they can have my dollar, but not on stuff I can get at my local grocery store. Thanks for your comments, everyone!
Sep. 8, 2010 4:15 pm
Hah... that makes it sound like California is in Canada. I should have proof-read! Although, if you want to join us, California, then I wouldn't need a passport to take a trip to the sunny beaches of San Diego.
Sep. 8, 2010 4:43 pm
Most every place can grow peppers and tomatoes, but your growing season is extremely short when compared to the warmer southern climates. You will have a few weeks of high yield, and then it's over. In the warmer climates, we can grow those things 6 months out of the year. I lived near Portland and Seattle for over 30 years, I know exactly what you can grow and can't grow and right about now is the time I really miss great peaches and corn. I really miss the fresh cherries, although we get imported ones for about a month in the season. Such is life - in a few short months we'll be in the height of our citrus season and I'll have enough lemons and oranges to fill bushels - just from the trees in my backyard. Every place has it's benefits.
Sep. 8, 2010 4:45 pm
Mike, some CSA's fill up pretty fast. You should sign up for one next season in your area. They are alot of fun and we enjoy what we get in our baskets. We belong to a dairy CSA that we buy from all year round. Dairy CSA's are very nice - especially if you do alot of baking like me.
Sep. 8, 2010 4:51 pm
Sorry, a CSA is a Community Supported Agriculture. For a list of CSA's local to you, visit www.localharvest.org. For a list of BC/Vancouver area markets, try www.eatlocal.org
Sep. 8, 2010 5:12 pm
BellesAZ, I'm about 2 hrs from Seattle. A bit longer drive to reach Portland. We have the same growing climate as Seattle, we grow the same produce. We have fresh cherries, and tons of fresh corn. Our growing season is not extremely short here. Of course other provinces in Canada have different growing seasons, but what I've been trying to say is that not all of Canada is the same. We do have milder climates depending on what Province you live in. Same as folks living in the US. You all have long or short growing seasons depending on what State you live in. I guess I'm just trying to get the point across that not all of Canada is frozen solid like so many think. I read it all the time and am amazed what people don't know about other countries. Come visit Vancouver, or jump on the ferry to Victoria located on Vancouver Island. Its even milder there. Come and see for yourself what a great (growing) place it is I live in! : )
Sep. 8, 2010 5:31 pm
Thanks Belles! I'll look into that and see if there are any in my area. Sounds like fun. And you didn't come up as snooty in your first comment :) I understand Calgary's growing season leaves something to be desired, I was upset because was paying more for the same stuff I get in the store, not because it wasn't local. I sure am jealous of your local produce - enjoy those lemons!!!
Sep. 9, 2010 8:08 am
PD, you should check around for other markets. Our BC guy comes to our area 2 times/week and he is great. I do buy bulk from him which helps to keep the cost down. When he brings peaches, oranges, pears and cherries I fill up the truck. The watermelons are to die for. I use IGA as my corner store-need to run and grab and he is very comparable to them. Great idea to use the money you save on meat to buy higher quality meats-gotta love our Black Angus!
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About Me
I'm a 22 year old novice cook - I live with my boyfriend in a small apartment with a teeny kitchen. Right now I'm trying to eat healthier and cut some meat out of my diet - I'm writing a blog about cooking my way through a vegetarian cookbook! I love trying new recipes, and adjusting them to suit my tastes.
My favorite things to cook
I love BBQing, making casseroles, and putting together any kind of soup. I'm also trying to get into baking - my kitchen is tiny so I have to use simple recipes, but I love making muffins and cookies to share.
My favorite family cooking traditions
When I was little my mom taught me how to make brown sugar syrup for our homemade pancakes - everytime she made pancakes at home, I would make the sauce to go with them.
My cooking triumphs
Lasagna Day - My first ever dinner party in my apartment, I made spinach salad, stuffed mushrooms, lasagna from scratch, and apple crisp. It was a hit with my friends, I got so many compliments!
My cooking tragedies
When I was in high school I decided to make some cinnamon buns, but the only recipe I could find was a huge batch, so I cut it in half. However, when I went to mix the ingredients, I found myself adding the full amount of some but only half of others, and I couldn't remember how much of each I'd already done. I tried cooking them anyways, but they were terrible!
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