"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.