Saturday, October 31, 2009

Farmer's Market: What You Get For the Money

Farmer's markets have the reputation for being more expensive than Whole Foods. Honestly, I don't see how it's possible for some place to be more expensive than Whole Foods! (Da-dum-tum. I'll be here all week!)

Awhile ago, Gradually Greener did a post on What $35 buys at the Dupont Circle Farmer's Market. I found it very interesting. As a spin-off, I'd like to demonstrate what $24 dollars ($30 sans breakfast, as it turns out) buys at the Falls Church Farmer's Market in early Fall. My rules for myself were: I had to, at the very least, buy the "dirty dozen" foods organic, and get enough vegetables for our needs for the week and not go over budget. Armed with my new, adorable harvesting basket (see above!) and cash, I set out for the market before the crowds got there. The husband hates navigating crowds.

I'm actually surprised by how well I did! Granted, I stayed focused and didn't buy any of the artisan breads, pastries, or cheeses. Or any meat products, for that matter. Here's the haul (with prices):

My market basket overflow-th!
Kohlrabi ($3. Organic), cooking celery ($3. Organic), 4 asian pears ($5. Organic), carrots ($2.50), green beans ($4.50. I think there's about 1.25 lbs), turnips ($3), broccoli ($3).

This is actually more vegetables than we probably need, given that we also have some mustard greens in the garden that need to be used, but I was determined to spend all of my allotted cash. Some sacrifices were made: We passed up some lovely seckel pairs because they were $7 for a basket full.

I'm really pleasantly surprised with the results. Almost everything that is pictured above is edible; I'll be using the greens of both the turnips and the kohlrabi along with the bulbs in an Indian-spiced stew. Apparently, carrot tops are also edible but I'm not sure I'll use them (as you can see, I've got a lot of greens to deal with already).

In full disclosure, we went to the grocery store after the farmer's market & picked up onions & ginger as well as some non-produce stuff: a rotisserie chicken, bread, tomato soup for lunch; kielbasa and italian sausage that was on sale; chickpeas; grits; a few boxes of mac & cheese (I know, I know. But sometimes you have a craving for crap mac & cheese. We will perhaps ironically pair it with the farmer's market broccoli); and some other misc things. That total, which includes more meat than we'll eat this week, was $42.

So, we spent $66 on groceries this week, which is actually on par with what we would have spent if we got our vegetables at the grocery story (Harris Teeter) rather than the farmer's market. And the farmer's market has the added bonus of supporting local farmers and being picked yesterday!

I'll think I'll do occasional updates on this post as the seasons change to see if some seasons are just more expensive at the farmer's market. Until then, I'll hone my shopping skills.

1 comment:

  1. This post makes a really good point! I love my farmers market veggies!
    One thing I'd like to add though is that even if the veggies did cost more, they would still be worth it because of the added nutritional value you get from having locally produced vegetables that are fresher. Old veggies (or ones that are picked before they are ripe) lose nutrients, and are not as good for you!