Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Farmers' Market versus Safeway

Something to Ponder

picture photograph celery 2007 copyright of sam breach http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/
Regular readers will know that I love to celebrate all of the wonderful items available at the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Farmers' market here on my blog. I buy nearly all of my fresh produce there, with only the occasional visit to Wholefoods or Rainbow Grocery to maintain a well-stocked pantry of dried goods, grains and flours to supplement the seasonal fresh produce that makes up most of my diet.

It is understandable that something as popular and as liked as San Francisco's Market should attract its fair share of critics. But when you are all gooey-eyed and ga-ga about something you all but unconditionally love, like I am, about the Farmer's Market, it's tough to hear it being bad mouthed. There are dozens of cruel words that have been thrown at it recently it by people who otherwise claim to care about food; 'elitist', 'highway robbery' 'astronomical' and 'extremely exclusive' being among the most upsetting. But instead of arguing, bickering, taking cheap shots and taking sides, as some people seem more apt to do, I wondered how I might be able to somehow celebrate my own personal love of the Farmers' Market by helping to show that it is not the exclusive rich-person's club it is ofttimes made out to be and at the same time perhaps help prove that these ignorant accusations are simply unfounded.

Perhaps the people who actually do shop there regularly are the best judges of whether it is expensive or not? As a regular at the Ferry Plaza, apart from a few premium items that can be avoided as a matter of personal taste or choice, I have never felt that the Farmers' Market was any more expensive to shop at than places like Wholefoods, Rainbow, Adronicos, Mollie Stones, Trader Joe's or even Safeway although I do accept it is probably more expensive than other local markets and budget groceries in places like the Mission District. Would I spring out of bed with sheer joy at 7am on a Saturday morning to go to Safeway? Absolutely not. But for the Farmers' Market? Of course, even with a hangover. There has to be something to it.

One of my 2007 resolutions was to keep a better track of how much my food costs and as a consequence I have, for the most part been keeping a record of my weekly grocery spending. This means I have records dating back for months. And I have been wondering what use they might be to me. I was trying to think of a lazy way I could compare the Farmers' Market prices to prices elsewhere. And then it clicked. I could check the prices against Safeway's Online service without even having to leave the comfort of my home.

I signed up for the service after my market visit on Saturday and began to compare prices of items I had purchased over the past two Saturdays, hoping that I could at least prove that the cost of shopping at the Farmers' market is only marginally more expensive than at Safeway but that the superior quality of the market produce would allow me to justify paying that little bit extra. But what I actually found shocked me deeply. In fact I am almost speechless and I think you will be too...

picture photograph organic thyme 2007 copyright of sam breach http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/


Actually I really am surprised. I didn't expect such a huge discrepancy in that direction. Shopping for fresh produce at the farmers' market over the last two weekends saved me a full 29% on what I would have spent on the same or inferior items at Safeway. Incredible but true, especially since Carlo Petrini, founder of the Slow Food Movement has recently been quoted as saying about the San Francisco Farmers' Market that "The prices were astronomical, twice or even three times as high as those of “conventional” products" when my unscientific little test here suggests the opposite could be true. Not only that, the farmers' market items in most cases are likely to be far superior to those at Safeway, will have travelled less distance to get to my plate and will sometimes be organic. The pretty, flowering watercress from Four Sisters Farm for example is the 'real' variety that is grown from wild seed instead of being cultivated like its Safeway counterpart. The lemons and oranges are unwaxed so their zest can be safely used in recipes. Every item is fairly local whereas when ordering from Safeway you largely don't have even the slightest clue where your food is coming from. Of course, I don't mean to imply that Mr Petrini would endorse Safeway, far from it, but I do think this comparison is more interesting in light of what he said.

picture photograph organic thyme 2007 copyright of sam breach http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/
I know there might be sceptics out there who will argue that I totally engineered this list, but I promise that just isn't true. You'll just have to trust me on this. I didn't even have the idea until after I had already been shopping and I bought just what I would normally buy. There were other things I'd purchased that I hoped to include on the list but the parameters weren't clear cut enough and I didn't want to be accused of manipulating the results to my advantage. For example, I picked up 2.25 lbs (3 punnets) of incredible, organic Swanton Berry Farms strawberries for just $6, but I didn't think it was fair to compare them to the ones on the Safeway site because their weight was not actually specified although from the picture I suspected they were $3.99 for a lb making them more expensive than Swanton's. Cherries presented a similar problem. I'd purchased a lb of beautiful organic cherries for $6 last week, but didn't know whether to pit them against the $2.99 or $7.99 a pound varieties on the Safeway site for the fairest comparison.

picture photograph organic thyme 2007 copyright of sam breach http://becksposhnosh.blogspot.com/
You know what, I don't want to argue too much about this with all the naysayers. I think I've made a good enough point for now. I am simply going to smile on my inside, safe in the knowledge that when I go the Ferry plaza Farmer's market on a Saturday morning I'll be surrounded by like-minded, friendly, generous, smart, caring, thoughtful people who all have good taste in food, happy that I am in no danger of bumping into anyone who is otherwise. I hope, one day, I'll see you there.




Local Resources
Swanton Berry Farm is unionized, its workers have holiday and sick pay, low cost housing and task rotation to avoid RSI issues. Their strawberries could not be more delicious this season.
Other Resources & Further Reading
Archives
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2004 | Nettle Fettucini


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The Farmers' Market versus Safeway

73 Comments:

  • At 20/5/07 21:52, Anonymous C(h)ristine said…

    Sam, this is a fantastic experiment--thank you for doing it. Now I will shop at the Farmer's market (SF Ferry Buidling Market or no) with my head held high, and my wallet a little heavier!

    It makes me feel good to know that I am not only eating better, and doing a better service to the environment (local produce), but that I am also not spending more to do it!

     
  • At 20/5/07 23:17, Blogger Dagny said…

    When I lived in the Mission, I shopped at the various produce markets around the area. The stuff there was less expensive and better looking than the stuff in the major chains. I then branched out to the carnicerias after visiting one with a friend. Same reason for shopping there.

    And then I moved back to the East Bay. In my hometown, the chain stores have been closing over the years. Most of the farmers' markets near there involve driving or a lengthy bus ride. I like to think that this is why folks find prices at the farmers' markets to be "astronomical." Heck. Most folks I know think that Whole Foods and Andronico's are very expensive. Fortunately, some of us have Berkeley Bowl as an alternative.

    Bottom line is that in the East Bay, at least, the farmers' markets are not always easily accessible to those who live in lower income neighborhoods -- like a lot of my students' families. Heck. The city in which I work only has one grocery store. Other than that, it's all about corner stores.

     
  • At 20/5/07 23:40, Blogger Pille said…

    A thought-provoking post, especially as "farmers markets are more expensive" is a constant message by supermarkets given in the media. Well done for proving them wrong:)

     
  • At 20/5/07 23:53, Blogger Zarah Maria said…

    Awesome! I love that - and the fact that there's such a big difference is a real eye-opener. I think the reason it sometimes feel like it's more expensive at the farmer's market is because you tend to buy more - everything looks so good! Sweaty, clingfilmed vegetables at the supermarket just doesn't give you the same inclination to buy, buy, BUY. So, when you think they're going to come up with a REAL market around here?? C'mon people! I wish I had the opportunity you do, Sam - I know I'd get up at 7 a.m. for it... (sniff, sniff, feeling awfully sorry for myself...;-))

     
  • At 21/5/07 00:23, Blogger ChrisB said…

    Sam that's amazing I would have expected it to be much more expensive; farmer market shopping is for many things more expensive here. I'm glad you challenged the critics and found them wanting!!

     
  • At 21/5/07 00:24, Anonymous leigh said…

    I have to disagree. I think comparing Safeway to the FB market is like comparing apples to oranges. Rather, compare two farmer's markets to get a better idea of how identical produce costs much much more at the FB. I have shopped almost every weekend, year-round for the last 4 years (since I moved here from out east) at either the Allemany farmer's market or the Ferry Building. The markets are half the reason I moved here. I'm just like you in the sense that I leap out of bed Sat AM excited to go. There's no question that the Ferry Building is overpriced compared to Allemany. Just take a look at the people - Allemany has a huge cross section of people, indicating it's where regular people go for amazing produce. The Ferry Building crowd is clearly affluent, as only affluent people can shop there regularly. It's usually the fruit that's a killer at the FB. A big bag of cherries that will cost me $7 at Allemany typically costs >$20 at the FB, But even vegetables -- English shell peas, 5lbs for $7.50 at Allemany will be $10 at the FB. Once I bought 2 average looking pears at the FB for $7 (!). I take out of town visitors to the FB market because it is a destination. I love it there b/c it's clean and beautiful. The farmers don't even have dirt under their nails (unlike at Allemany). But that prettiness comes at a cost. It doesn't have all the glamor (and you have to get there much earlier than the FB for the reallu good stuff), but Allemany is a much more affordable market - amazing organic produce at far less than the Ferry Building.,,and much, much less than Safeway.

     
  • At 21/5/07 00:42, Blogger Bonnie said…

    Hats off to you, Sam! Well done. We did a similar experiment with our vegie box. It was cheaper to get a vegie box with beautiful fresh organic seasonal produce delivered directly to our door than it was to get the equivilent at Sainsbury's. And just think of how much better off the farmers will be! Their margins are much, much higher compared to the supermarkets so while you're getting cheaper produce, they're actually earning more money. So it's a win win situation.

    I will have to disagree with Leigh that there is a problem with the discrepancy in prices between the Ferry Building and the Allemany market. As far as I'm concerned if the punters are willing to pay... why not charge. And as long as the prices are cheaper than the supermarkets (as you have proven) there is nothing unethical about it.

     
  • At 21/5/07 04:01, Anonymous matt said…

    How terrible is it that me, being in the food bizz,automatically assumed that the SF Ferry Building Farmers' Market would be more expensive than a regular grocery store?

    WOW.

     
  • At 21/5/07 05:23, Blogger Rachel said…

    It's odd to me that in CA people seem to think the farmer's market is more expensive when we East Coasters for the most part seem to think it is cheaper, which it is. I mean, it is direct from the farmers and in CA, the growing season is so long!

    Also: how lucky are you to get citrus at your farmer's market-they are a killer here.

     
  • At 21/5/07 05:33, Blogger Kalyn said…

    Sam, what an interesting experiment. I loved the result. Here the Farmer's Market is only open June-October, but I love to go there when it's open. And the Ferry Building Farmer's Market is probably the best one I've ever visited!

     
  • At 21/5/07 06:19, Blogger Trig said…

    What fascinating experiment results, Sam. The problem with my local farmers' market is that the majority of people who buy there aren't locals. I find it quite frustrating to witness when every Saturday, hundreds of people turn up out of nowhere to stroll around looking at retro sofa outlets sipping mochaccinos, dressed in berets and plimsolls. I'm not just being a grumpy young man, and I'll admit there are some good stalls on Broadway Market with great produce to offer, but it's the fact that they're run by out-of-towners, selling to other out-of-towners in my town!

     
  • At 21/5/07 06:47, Anonymous Luisa said…

    Very, very cool! (You already have CHERRIES?! I'm dying over here.)

     
  • At 21/5/07 07:03, Blogger Alanna said…

    Agreed, fascinating ...

     
  • At 21/5/07 07:24, Blogger lobstersquad said…

    I wish I could go there sometime. Here in Madrid there are no farmers´ markets, which is too bad, but I´m a firm devotee of local markets, though, versus big supermarkets. Everyone says they´re expensive, but I think if anybody does the math, it may work out like yours.

     
  • At 21/5/07 07:35, Blogger Deborah said…

    I'm just jealous that you have a farmer's market!! The only time to get fresh local produce here in Utah is a small frame of time in the late summer/early fall. How I would love to have a farmer's market!!!

     
  • At 21/5/07 08:19, Blogger Tea said…

    This is really interesting, Sam! I don't often go to supermarkets, but this weekend I was in one, late at night, buying some missing items for a picnic dish I needed to make early the next morning. I was surprised at some of the prices there--$.99 for one lemon, when I know I pay less at the FM.

    My struggle isn't with supermarkets vs. the FM, it's with the very inexpensive corner market in my neighborhood. Hard to swallow paying $2 for a head of lettuce at the FM when they have it for $.49 (though I do). And I know Trader Joe's sell's three in a package--organic--for $2.19. It's moments like that which test my ethical resolve about FM shopping--and are also influenced by how rich I'm feeling that day:-)

    Thanks for advancing this discussion in a proactive manner. This is really interesting.

     
  • At 21/5/07 08:50, Anonymous Laurie said…

    You're absolutely right, Sam. The farmers' market is, overall, less expensive than conventional supermarkets in the Bay Area.

    I do find that I spend more money at the farmers's market than at the supermarket, but there is a very logical reason for this - the quality of farmers' market produce is so high that I buy more produce on market days than I normally would buy in a supermarket. But this is the great thing about the deal - I end up eating more produce during the week and living better because of it.

    Here's another thing consider: the produce I buy at the farmers' market is so fresh that it lasts me the entire week. Nothing goes to waste. That's value right there.

     
  • At 21/5/07 08:58, Blogger Alice Q said…

    Nice job Sam - I think Safeway actually has some pretty decent produce, for a grocery store - but it is expensive. The farmers' market is also preferable for so many other reasons. I'm reading the Barbara Kingsolver book right now "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" and I highly highly recommend it. It's very educational about conventional produce and very thought provoking, I think you would enjoy it.

     
  • At 21/5/07 09:11, Blogger NS said…

    Great post, Sam. Quite frankly, I'm baffled by the attacks on FB farmers by Petrini and his supporters. The way some of these critics talk, you might think that the farmers were driving around town in Porsches and partying on their yachts into the wee hours of the morning. The reality, of course, is that these farmers work extraordinarily hard, they are grossly underpaid, and they toil in a hypercompetitive industry in which large corporate conglomerates rule. Yet, as your post so nicely illustrates, they still manage to get a vastly better product to market than their large-scale competitors do, and at prices that are more than competitive.

    And as for those few instances in which FB farmers are charging more than Safeway, I say so what? We live in a country of unrestrained corporate greed, where corporations own the politicians, pay virtually no taxes, and make money hand over fist on the backs of consumers. Yet, we're supposed to get all riled up about the small-scale farmer who is charging a few dollars more per pound of (superior) cherries than our local grocery chain? Give me a break. If you want something to get outraged about, look no further than the unconscionable fact that Safeway is selling mealy flavorless fruit at exorbitant prices specifically designed to ensure its exorbitant profit margins. And it gets away with it.

    Finally, I have to disagree with Leigh's comment from above. In contrasting the Allemany market with the FB, Leigh suggests that "only affluent people can shop [at the FB] regularly." Well, Sam has just demonstrated that the FB is, on balance, cheaper than Safeway. So does that mean that only the super affluent can afford to shop at Safeway regularly? Needless to say, I cannot agree with any definition of "affluent" that is so broad as to sweep in everyday consumers of regular grocery chains.

     
  • At 21/5/07 09:21, Anonymous furlinedteacup said…

    When I read Petrini's book, I was taken aback at his criticism of the ferry plaza farmers market as well. Good for you for helping debunk the comments.

     
  • At 21/5/07 09:22, Anonymous Amanda B. said…

    Bravo, Sam! Very, very well done. Thank you for taking the time to prove how much more worth it shopping at the farmers' market is--now, if only you could have taste-o-vision so you could have people taste for themselves the difference beyond prices.

     
  • At 21/5/07 09:56, Blogger Dr. Biggles said…

    Nice shootin' !!!

    I'd love to be one of the people that see you there. I swore to myself I'd be over there early this spring. And yet? Mebbe if Bart didn't make me so mad & frothy. I can SEE San Francisco, but getting there is another story.

    Too bad Richmond doesn't have a ferry anymore. Feh.

    Biggles

     
  • At 21/5/07 10:11, Blogger FaustianBargain said…

    sam, i have a couple of things to say. first of all, i have no doubt that your price comparison is true. nor do i have any doubt that ferry market plaza produce is a million times better. but the point is that ferry market is still a destination. dont get me wrong, i love it!(except when the joggers try to run me over. the dogs, i dont mind so much..also, i have a bit of a panic attack when i am in crowds, but we are going nowhere with all those revelations)it is beautiful..the setting is spectacular. there are the markets, the shops, the restaurants and the speciality food stores...the chocolates, the caviar..the wines and cheeses. most of which, probably with the exception of some of the produce markets, *are* selling their stuff at boutique prices.

    now, if we are going to speak of farmers markets in america and include the ferry market farmers as one of them and divorce them from the rest of the ferry plaza glitter, the whole controversy is perplexing. why would someone like carlo petrini say such mean things?! but the point is...for a visitor, it doesnt seem that way. he sees them as a 'package' deal. thats how *I* felt in the beginning as a non-american and many of my guests from europe feel the same way...some are intimidated, some are amused, but almost all of them enjoy the experience. and thats what ferry plaza boils down to...an enjoyable place with a view..a group of people living upto their goals and visions serving others who share the same vision.

    for someone who is involved in any kind of 'movement'(disclaimer: i know nothing about the slow movement except what i have heard here and there..i do not affiliate myself with any movement, even if i recognise them as high minded..so i am talking about of my hat here), i would assume('assume' being the key word)that the whole thing is not in synch with any kind of bigger vision. farmers markets/slow food has nothing to do with the ferry market plaza. maybe the ferry market plaza farmers contribute in significant ways at *other* farmers markets, but when they are judged(as they were by carlo petrini)at ferry market plaza, they are being judged in the background of a tourist destination.

    and for most people, with the exception of people living in the sf bay area, it *is* a tourist destination. even in the far flung areas of the extended bay area, farmers markets are not this prevalent. in the peninsula, the 'yuppies and hippies' line in front of whole foods. and many from the fringes of the extended bay area do visit the ferry market plaza. the cost to them is the cost of time and gas/transport/parking etc. yet, they come in droves. why are they not going to their own meagre, humble farmers markets? there can be two reasons. either,the ferry market's appeal is not it's vendors or produce, but it's 'destination' appeal. or the other reason could be that their farmers' markets are not good enough wrt quality/range. and for a person who is involved in any kind of movement to bring about a bigger change, ferry market plaza does not fit into any scheme of things.

    having said all that, i must say that it is important. it satisfies a lot of needs in the bay area. i do not agree that the farmers should bring their prices down...they do have a higher profit margin than if they sell wholesale through other distribution systems..maybe they dont because they drive a long distance, but if they make a profit, why shouldnt they? and if customers want to buy it at those prices, why cant they?

    taking the liberty to say some more on this issue and not particularly about the ferry market plaza/slow food misunderstanding..and as someone who comes from a different part of the world, i find this perplexing. it's not wrong or right, it is different here. and i understand that things work differently in america and some people want to change it. to explain why i find it all different is to explain how it was when i grew up...this is not to say how it should happen here, but just narrating it for entertainment value..vegetables were delivered to homes everyday by vendors fresh from the market. they were purchased directly from farms or wholesalers who bring them across state lines. vendors buy them at whole sale rates, add a little margin and sell it directly to homes. each vendor has his own route/street. in my street, for example, there will be a flower lady, a lady who sells only greens, vendors who bring their push carts with a variety of vegetables. and there is a code..other vendors from another street will not solicit regular customers of other vegetable guys. unless of course, they are called..which usually means that the customer needs something at once/urgently.

    there were also vegetable stalls at street corners. here, they stored small quantities of emergency grocery items, cigarettes, magazines etc..like the tabac, i suppose. vegetables were delivered every day morning(usually 4 in the morning)and the quality is dodgy. if nothing gets sold that day, they 'refresh' the veggies until they get sold. as a child, we never had any vegetables in the fridge. we never had stored produce except maybe potatoes, onions or garlic.

    after a while, the number of mobile vendors significantly reduced with more fancy supermarkets popping up and each one of them having their own produce section. they were almost always wrapped in plastic, the quality not terribly good and very expensive. but as lives got busy, these seemed like an option. yet, there were also open air markets twice a week. exotic fruit exported from elsewhere were displayed like jewels. and then there were other supermarkets(not the chains) who have their own farms or buy from specific farmers..the produce was always fresh and anything remaining from that day's delivery would go into their staff meals or restaurant. nilgiris in bangalore/chennai is a good example. they have their own dairy farm too.

    i loved the open markets..twice a week. two entire streets will be lined with fruits, vegetables, flowers and sometimes even dry goods. most of the shoppers there are not wealthy. they are the kind of labourers who can buy in small quantities twice a week from their daily wages. and i love these markets because it doesnt get any more fresher than this. as you can see, it is the exact opposite of what is happening in the united states. once again, i am not criticising it and i can see how it is different in different countries. i am just saying that there are differences and these differences makes us go.."hmm..now..*that* is interesting!"

    for the longest time in bangalore, the state run co-ops called hopcoms buy from farms and sell it directly to the public. there would be a hopcoms for every street or three. it is the same with coin operated milk booths run by the govt where thye buy milk from the milkmen and sell it directly to the public. it's called nandini in bangalore and when i was growing up in chennai, we had aavin.

    on the other side, at one time, the family had dairy farms and also a farm that rotated vegetable crops and jasmine flowers. at some point, there was also a silkworm/mulberry bush operation, but it would have probably made me cringe now, but it was not my ethical/livelihood choice..so, i'd refrain from judgement. the dairy is more complicated, but how it worked in the other farm was that there were labourers who worked in our farms and they would divide the produce. they pay a wholesale rate and they pay nothing for the use of the land, although i suppose it is somewhat included in the wholesale price. the themes that recurr again and again is access and distribution.

    like i said, if we seperate the issue of the ferry market and whatever slow food is trying to achieve in the usa(of which i am not sure i am clear about..), the ills that plague america are difficulty of access and distribution. and to a large extent, the political lobbying and frankenfood movement. ferry market plaza or farmers markets are not a solution. an aggressive solution is to hit the road to The Hill. specific solutions to specific problems.

    the farmers at ferry market plaza ought to feel rightfully proud about what they do, but for different reasons. they are not changing the food psyche of america. it is not going to bring about a big change even though they do bring a lot of joy and committment to a small percentage of people.

    i hope i havent annoyed or upset you or anyone reading this. i know its long and thanks for reading till the end.

     
  • At 21/5/07 10:23, Blogger Julie said…

    Sam,
    Julie here from CUESA (we run the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market). Thanks for doing this. We have done a comparison and have had similar results. I am not sure why the perception is that farmers' markets are more expensive; maybe it's because Safeway has a lot of cheap processed items, whereas the cheeses, vinegars, etc. at Ferry Plaza Farmers Market are more expensive (they are also generally small batch, sometimes handmade, sometimes organic, taste a lot better, etc.) Meats and eggs are also more expensive at Ferry Plaza, but you can't even get pasture raised beef or eggs at Safeway. As for the comparison between markets, it's true that some other farmers' markets are cheaper, but a mere price comparison does not take into account quality and sustainability of farming practices. Personally I think it's worth paying a little more for quality and to support local farmers whose practices I feel good about, and I think farmers should charge whatever the market will bear. It's not easy to make a decent living as a farmer.

     
  • At 21/5/07 10:48, Blogger FaustianBargain said…

    eta: bangalore hopcoms

    small quantities, but fresh. distribution network facilitates availability to everyone.

     
  • At 21/5/07 12:08, Blogger nicole said…

    Love the famer's markets -- Ferry Building and otherwise. I must admit I utilize my neighborhood organic market when I want something (produce) in particular, though I try to take advantage of the local markets also because it's more fun to spend weekend mornings there ... I am surprised about the Safeway comparison (I had thought the non-o stuff would be cheaper) though it does have good deals on things like, ahem, paper goods.

     
  • At 21/5/07 12:11, Blogger Sam said…

    great comments and discussion everyone. I realise my post is only one very small tip of a very large iceberg and I would like to thank you all for weighing with other aspects of the issue that we all need to think about.

    I was just checking the BBC news during my lunch break and stumbled across this article about how middle class Indians are turning their backs on traditional outdoor food markets which I thought was an interesting and somewhat related read.

     
  • At 21/5/07 12:39, Blogger Adam said…

    Wow! Amazing, Sam. Thanks for the enlightenment. I might try the same experiment here in NYC with our "Greenmarket" system.

     
  • At 21/5/07 12:59, Anonymous Steve Sando said…

    Would it be ok if I fell in love with you? Oh wait, I already have done that. ok. It's time to renew my vows.

    My headache is clear and there's a song in my heart, all thanks to you!

     
  • At 21/5/07 12:59, Anonymous Tana said…

    Sam: this is a wonderful post. I am one who got completely cheesed off at Carlo Petrini's careless distortions...and when I say "cheesed," I mean stinky stinky cheese.

    I would like to recommend to anyone who is a regular at a farmers market that you pick up Russ Parsons' new book, How to Pick a Peach: The Search for Flavor from Farm to Table, which I reviewed yesterday on my website. (I linked here directly to the post.) It is a sheer glory, one of the best books—let alone cookbooks— I've read in a long time.

    Thanks for your experiment supporting fresh, local foods and our fabulous farmers.

     
  • At 21/5/07 13:14, Blogger sher said…

    Wonderful post, and I am not surprised. Over-all, the prices at my Farmer's Market in Davis are less expensive. And there is another factor--many growers reduce their prices as the day wears on (at least, they do here). I've gotten amazing price reductions on flowers and food at the Farmer's Market.

     
  • At 21/5/07 14:10, Anonymous Robert said…

    Are the Safeway Online prices comparable to those you would find in the physical Safeway store?

     
  • At 21/5/07 14:42, Blogger Anita said…

    Sam: Love this. I know my bill is larger at the FPFM because of the meats and other non-veggie items we buy there, but the quality is so vastly superior to the supermarket kinds, I can't imagine going back. And besides: The FPFM is my community, my surrogate church. Even if your results had been reversed, it wouldn't change my shopping habits.

    Faustian: It's unfair to criticize the CUESA farmers market (which is only the stalls outdoors) for the prices of the boutiques inside the ferry building, which are separately run.

    Leigh: I live a few blocks from Alemany market, but I don't shop there (expect for when I am seeking a few rarities like green walnuts) because by and large the produce isn't organic, and the sellers aren't the farmers.

    I put it to the test late last summer, asking each person I bought from where their farm was located and what the varietal name was for each item. (Sample exchange: "What kind of peach is this?" "A white peach." "No, I mean what breed?" "Oh, I don't know.") Only one person I bought from could look me in the eye and answer astutely. One seller even admitted outright that it wasn't his produce, that he simply bought in bulk and resold at various "farmers" markets. Ugh.

    If cheap was what I wanted, I could go down to Mission Street and buy bodega produce.

     
  • At 21/5/07 16:26, Blogger Cate said…

    I'm totally jealous that you get to go to that market, yet alone year 'round. We have 2 here, that I know of, and they don't start for a few more weeks, and once October comes, they're gonzo. Was surprised to see such a big difference in pricing ... but a very happy surprise. :)

     
  • At 21/5/07 16:35, Blogger candyschultz said…

    I am totally jealous as well. Here in Michigan we only get those markets for a few short months. I shop for good produce at regular produce markets during the winter but I am quite certain that everything is coming from far away. You guys are very lucky.

     
  • At 21/5/07 16:44, Anonymous Mary said…

    Sam - this confirms something that I've suspected/known for a long time. My ex-husband actually made me make lists of prices at this place and that place because he thought I was paying too much at the farmers market. He was wrong. He also didn't last very long.

     
  • At 21/5/07 16:44, Blogger Casey said…

    A terrific post, Sam. Bravo. And I'm one of those crazy people who even buy the $8/dozen eggs at the FB because they are so incredibly superior to every other egg I've ever tasted in this part of the world. (I still dream of some of the eggs I tasted in England-but that's a bit far to go for my grocery shopping.)

     
  • At 21/5/07 17:08, Blogger Lynn Eve said…

    A friend pointed me to your blog, and I think this conversation is fantastic. Regarding Carlo Petrini's comments on the Ferry Plaza, I can see why the farmers are upset. But I also got the point he was trying to make (I read the entire book this weekend). I think his point was to illustrate the contradictions of having such a lavish market (it's not just a farmer's market...you have all of the specialty shops and chi chi food boutiques, that are wonderful, but indeed not for the everyman). More and more people are beginning to take more notice of their food, wanting to know who grew it, how it was grown, how does it taste. And the Ferry Plaza is a great success story in that it takes food to an almost celebrity status. One can be shocked to see peaches sold for about $4 a peach (and, believe me, I've spent that for a certain farmer's peach), but if you shop around the market you can find produce that's not nearly as costly. And Petrini certainly does not begrudge a farmer a decent wage and a family life - he explicitly says this in his book. Unfortunately, it was his snapshot portrait of a few farmers (which I imagine were composites, not specific people) to drive home his point of the contradictions that, in fact, food is too cheap (what with crops like corn subsidized to make horrible packaged foods) and that good, clean and fair food should be a right for all. Like Petrini, I too am saddened by people who elevate food to a status symbol, of a trophy to be won, and I think he did paint a portrait of some of those type of people that you do see at the market. Fortunately, that is not the majority of shoppers I've seen at the market (but they are there).

    Overall, Petrini's book endorses and celebrates farmers markets and urges all of us to take the next steps in supporting food that is good, clean and fair. And the fact you can do so at the Ferry Plaza and not Safeway is fantastic!

     
  • At 21/5/07 18:38, Blogger FaustianBargain said…

    thats the same article i read today, sam! there is some discussion here about it..

    anita, i *completely* hear you. my point is that it will all boil down to how these things are perceived...and ferry market plaza has always been seen as a 'destination'..and at the background of a destination place, everything..even produce stalls..wear a glimmer....there is nothing wrong with that. for someone who comes from a different food culture, it is difficult to seperate such things. i am saying this only because i felt the same way. but unlike carlo petrini, i am all for farmers surfing and making a decent living..i think that its *good* thing. but for someone who is there to promote an agenda or a template for change from his own italy, it can be jarring and disorienting.

    like i said earlier, it is not right or wrong. it just is...it is different in different places. one ought to understand these differences before coming to hasty conclusions about the others' intent..and this applies to those who participate on *both* sides of the argument. another example, i think it's great that customers want to buy fresh and direct, but i dont understand why its a bad thing when one purchases (say from the alemany market)from vendors rather than farmers in an outdoor farmers market. obviously alemany market caters to a different set of people and for someone whose budget doesnt justify FB market..yet, they'd like to make a difference. maybe they dont want to know the name of the peaches. the 'organic' label itself is a govt imposition and many california farmers are willing to give up the label while still sticking to good and sustainable farming practices. each market caters to different people. alemany market(or the mission bodega with 'cheap' produce) is no more inferior to any other farmers' market as ferry market plaza is elitist that caters to 'actresses' and the 'wealthy'.

    my 2 c. take care.

     
  • At 21/5/07 19:46, Blogger Robert said…

    Great post, Sam. I can testify that here in South Carolina I've seen similar results in my own price comparisons: the prices at the farmer's market are consistently lower than those at the supermarkets, and usually for fresher produce. I think you do have to take into account that at the farmer's market (at least here in Charleston, where vendors are required to grow at least 50% of the produce they sell) we see the effect of cutting out the middleman. But, without a doubt, the argument that farmer's markets are elitist and charge a premium for produce simply does not hold water.

     
  • At 21/5/07 19:59, Anonymous MFKsWolf said…

    Here is the letter Carlo Petrini wrote to CUESA. He wrote and sent this to CUESA BEFORE the meeting with the farmers which went so poorly. CUESA chose, for reasons unknown, not to share this letter with the farmers before that event. I don’t know if they have done so yet.

    *****************

    Dear CUESA,

    I was quite surprised to learn in the past few days about some negative
    reactions to a passage called *Green California* in my
    just-published book, Slow Food Nation, and wanted to take a moment to
    try to explain my intentions and clarify what I believe happened.

    First of all, I want to apologize for any offense caused by this
    passage, whether to your organization or the many farmers who are your
    members and collaborators. It was absolutely not my intention to
    denigrate or attack the farmers of the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market - or
    of any farmers market, for that matter. I hope that you will consider
    the rest of my book, not to mention the range of Slow Food projects I
    have founded over the past twenty years, a testament to the deep
    admiration I feel for the farmers who grow sustainably and depend on the
    direct market economies of farmers markets, both in the United States
    and around the world. The network of farmers and food producers that we
    brought together at Terra Madre has only helped to reinforce how
    strongly I believe in the importance of farmers as defenders of the
    earth and stewards of our future.

    In part, I believe that the translation of this passage was,
    unfortunately, not as accurate as it should have been, and that the
    misinterpretation of certain phrases and the omission of a few key words
    resulted in a tone that differs significantly from the spirit of what I
    wrote in Italian. In fact, my original words were meant to demonstrate
    the positive impression I had of the two farmers with whom I spoke,
    based on their apparent success in making farming a viable livelihood
    for themselves.

    I have also come to realize that this specific passage may be
    vulnerable to misunderstandings when judged outside of the context of
    the chapter in which it resides, not to mention the book in its
    entirety. For this I can only apologize for the imperfections of my own
    writing, in my attempt to explore some of the contradictions that exist
    within the highly relative concept of sustainability.

    The loss of biodiversity in our food supply; the rights of migrant farm
    workers; the elitism argument against organic and artisanal foods; not
    to mention the twin epidemics of obesity and hunger that plague our
    planet, are all contradictions which we need to acknowledge and explore
    in a way that respects multiple cultures and points of view.

    I believe strongly that the only way in which we can overcome these
    contradictions is to create a dialogue where we face these issues with
    an open mind and a generous heart, and I hope that with this in mind, we
    can come to the table together to recognize our common values and chart
    a path forward that unites our work in the pursuit of food that is good,
    clean and fair.

    In friendship/Sincerely/With respect,

    Carlo Petrini
    President
    Slow Food International

     
  • At 21/5/07 23:02, Anonymous Brett said…

    Excellent rebuttal to CP, Sam. I'm actually not that surprised. I'm always horrified by the high prices for produce at our local Safeway. Once every few months I'll buy something there because my usual stores are closed. I had an idea for a video rebuttal to Carlo Petrini (although I don't have a camcorder or the time to do it or the "chutzpah"). I wanted to go around the farmers market on Saturday and ask random women for their autographs (since only actresses shop there). We need to fly Adam in from NY to film it!

     
  • At 21/5/07 23:32, Anonymous Adrea said…

    The Ferry Building market is one of the highlights of my too busy week. Although delighted to know it's not more expensive, I would happily pay more for the nutrition and flavor that comes from the freshest of produce. Relationships and mutual respect develop between the growers and we, the customers...and for some reason, there is a special sense of community amongst us. Nothing compares to the taste of a fresh organic strawberry and the smell of fresh herbs. This market is a gift to the spirit and naturally nurturing to the body. We have much to be grateful for.

     
  • At 22/5/07 00:18, Blogger shuna fish lydon said…

    am I comment #100?

    This is amazing. As a post and as a place for all these varied comments, viewpoints and vented words. What a fantastic way to illustrate a point.

    having worked at a number of farmers' markets in the Bay Area, for various farms and food artisans (for the last 10 + years), I can say I know that purveyors do charge more at the ferry building than any of the other markets they take their produce to because they know they can.

    I also know that unless a restaurant's name is on my uniform I cannot afford to shop in SF for produce. I do alright by Berkeley Bowl, Monterey Market and the Berkeley fm, but SF is mostly a place for looking, tasting, and keeping up with fruit/farmers/colleagues and friends.

    I don't begrudge Carlo Petrini. For words or missed translations. Nor do I begrudge CUESA (although for a non-profit, they are doing quite well for themselves) as they prvide 4 incredible markets and various ways to become involved and educated.

    Maybe it's a good thing he was misunderstood? makes for great realizations, discussions, comparisons, and then stronger convictions. Brava Sam for sending the message out to a broader audience than many of us can.

     
  • At 22/5/07 03:29, Blogger Deborah Dowd said…

    What an eye-opener! Looking at your list I would guss that this discrepancy is because many of the items you got at your farmer's market are considered "specialty" items at the Safeway, and therefor are premium priced, but it is great for people to know that before they shop!

     
  • At 22/5/07 04:46, Anonymous David said…

    "The prices were astronomical, twice or even three times as high as those of “conventional” products"

    That's pretty reasonable since the organic markets that I've been to in France, as well as in Signore Petrini's Italy, the prices are normally at least four times higher than conventional produce.

    Often more.

    He should stock up when he's at the Ferry Plaza Market. Like I'm going to do.

     
  • At 22/5/07 05:41, Blogger Sam said…

    Thank you everyone - I am honoured, really, to have so many thoughtful people weigh in with comments and I thank you all. Of course this subject is one that deserves so much pondering and I only brushed on it. I am sorry I don't have time to answer every thoughtful comment individually but i do appreciate your having taken the time to write down your thoughts here.

    Just a couple of points - from what people have raised - the apology from CP to CUESA is of no relevance to me. CP has not apologized to the actual customers he insulted but I'll trust that his translation was wrong and he'll now understand that some of us throw ourselves out of bed at some ungodly hour come rain or shine every single week and the only resemblance we have to an actress is that we throw on a big pair of sunglasees to cover the bags under our eyes when we go to support our farmers. We don't buy vegetables to wear like jewels but to feed our families.
    I think even I could translate numbers like "2 or 3" from Italian to English - so if the part where he claims the prices are so much more than conventional were lost in translation too then he really needs to employ a better proof reader.

    And as for aspeciality items on my list- I'll accept that criticism maybe of herbs and apriums, but when potatoes are nearly double the price, lemons three times the price, and oranges, leeks and celery all more expensive, then I don't buy that argument. These are all staples as far as I am concerned. As I was growing up in the UK we didn't have much money for food but these items were regularly on our menu. In CA, even avocados would be considered a staple although wouldn't have been in the UK.

     
  • At 22/5/07 08:05, Anonymous Great big Veg Challenge said…

    Sam,
    I have found the same thing is true in London. I recently started buying as much of my food from the street markets and farmers markets - and although some of the rather posher versions are a bit pricy the normal market stands are way cheaper than the supermarket.

     
  • At 22/5/07 09:15, Anonymous Bruno said…

    Very surprising outcome Sam! I would have expected just the opposite.

     
  • At 22/5/07 09:37, Blogger Kelly-Jane said…

    That really is amazing, I wouldn't have thought there would have been such a differece in price. My local farmers market only comes once a month, I need to support it more!

     
  • At 22/5/07 09:38, Blogger Dive said…

    Anyone who knows me knows that I am notoriously cheap. I *will* pay for more expensive produce and goods, but not without feeling like I'm splurging.

    As said tightwad, I can find good deals at the FBFM and in the FB in general. However, I can also find good deals in Safeway, Whole Foods, and Chinatown - it's really about knowing what's in season and what people are currently charging. If you don't know what the market prices are (and what they average out to be each year), you can't really shop efficiently and you may come away with a skewed impression of who's overcharging and who isn't.

    BTW, Bariani olive oil is cheaper at the FBFM when you buy directly from them. And you consistenly get good quality mushrooms at a fair price from Far West Fungi. However, many fruits at the FBFM can be on the (grossly) high side and I think this has to do with the fact that fruit is immediately consumable - therefore you are buying fruit at tourist/office worker (Tues & Thurs) prices... because they're not going to buy a cardoon and cook it on the spot.

    As far as what Anita said about Alemany and about the sellers not being knowledgable about the foods they sell: Many farmers do not staff the farmers' markets themselves and often hire locals (or even their own children!) to sell for them - this happens at most farmers markets I've been to. My feeling is: so what? What matters to me is if they can tell me where it's from and who grew it.

    I do, however, abhor local produce stands who buy foreign produce and try to pass it off as local - but, if you know what's in season (and what grows locally) and you ask where it's from, you can usually avoid this pitfall.

     
  • At 22/5/07 10:53, Blogger Anna said…

    Thanks for this post. I think those of us who are passionate about the whole organic/local/seasonal/market thing really do have a responsibility to address the class confusion on the topic. It's true that a lot of people feel alienated because it seems like a rich people's thing, and I appreciate that you've pointed out that financially, this isn't true. I think one thing that can make this lifestyle affordable is the SEASONAL aspect of it--eat things that are in season, and you avoid most of the priciest produce at any given time of year!

    I do think there's more to it--as I know you're a Brit, and I'm currently participating in this sort of food culture in England, I'm sure we can agree that there's a lot more to being alienated in terms of class than the physical reality of how much something costs. It's cultural too, and I feel like that's the harder thing to address--that caring about where you food comes from, and enjoying the experience of purchasing it, is not just something that "posh" people do. I think so many people just feel like they're too "common" to participate in something that seems like you have to be a food expert to truly be welcomed into.

    I do think you've taken a really important first step in pointing out that it isn't necessarily more expensive. So thank you!

     
  • At 22/5/07 11:02, Anonymous Steve Sando said…

    Shuna, you may want to rephrase "I can say I know that purveyors do charge more at the ferry building than any of the other markets they take their produce to because they know they can." to "I know some or a few purveyors". As someone who doesn't charge more, it can be taken the wrong way. I asked all the vendors around me if they charge more and most agreed it's too confusing too keep track and they have one price, as unscientific as that survey is.
    And in fairness, if someone from say Dixon or Yolo had to come into the city, there's extra gas, mileage, even a bridge to consider. And mayeb extra staff, who knows?
    And mfkswolf, thanks for posting that non-apology apology everywhere. Be sure and add that all the board of directors had the manuscript long before it went to press and they all signed off on it.
    But Shuna is right, it's great we're talking about price. If someone is gouging, I would love to see them called on it and if there's a misunderstanding, how great to clear it up!

     
  • At 22/5/07 11:35, Blogger FaustianBargain said…

    i think that it is interesting what steve said..re the pricing.

    personally,(i am certainly not asking for disclosures..just disclosing my own math), i divide it into thirds(also a tad unscientific, but i am somewhat fixated on the number three..so it just works for me). 1/3 goes to cost. 1/3 goes to profits(mine..mine..ALL mine!) and 1/3 goes back into fixed costs/reinvestment. when the 1/3 of price=profit is not viable, it means that its time to increase scale.

     
  • At 22/5/07 12:22, Blogger Dani Spies said…

    I love it...this is a fantastic post! Thanks!!

     
  • At 22/5/07 12:49, Blogger Renz said…

    This is really interesting, but I wonder how far beyond the Bay Area these you would get the same results.

    For instance, I live in Austin (home of Whole Foods). I am on a budget, so I don't shop at Whole Foods (I don't like them anyway, though I am a big fan of Central Market).

    We have Safeway here (under the name Randalls), but I never, ever, ever shop there: their quality is utterly average, but they are widely known to have the most unjustifiably high prices for regular produce. So I wouldnt be surprised to find Whole Foods or the farmers market or any place to have lower prices than Safeway.

    But I'd be interested to compare farmers market prices to our regular supermarket, HEB (owner of Central Market), which has normal quality, and lots of organic goods, and isn't widely derided as a rip-off.

    Then again, this is Texas, and so our HEB produce may not pass for squat in the Bay Area, but it's got to be at least as good as Safeway.

     
  • At 22/5/07 17:58, Blogger Anne said…

    Fabulous. We have a year-round farmer's market here and the thought never crossed my mind that it may be cheaper.

    You know with 9 mouths to feed that I will most certainly be giving it another look!

     
  • At 23/5/07 11:21, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Why has no one commented on the fact that most online grocers traditionally mark up their wares? That could explain the slight price discrepancy.

     
  • At 23/5/07 11:50, Blogger Dive said…

    Went to the FBFM (Tuesday) yesterday and bought organic cherries from Winters, CA at $3/pound, although some vendors had different varieties for $4-$6/pound. Safeway at Jackson Square, as of an hour ago, has them for $3/pound. The peach prices were roughly the same.

     
  • At 23/5/07 12:57, Blogger Amy Sherman said…

    Safeway is plenty expensive meaning you have to shop wisely which is exactly the same thing that you have to do at the Ferry Plaza imho. It's easy to fixate on high prices wherever you shop. Safeway uses what's called a "high low" strategy luring you (well some of you) in with sale prices and marking everything up substantially.

    Sam did you notice that the organic oranges at Safeway were only 69 cents each instead of the $1.75 for conventional oranges? Also in my virtual shopping I found no fresh rosemary at all and mint was $1.99 not $2.99. Perhaps stock and prices change frequently. They certainly do at the Ferry Plaza from week to week.

     
  • At 23/5/07 13:08, Blogger Sam said…

    All the prices were accurate at the time I wrote the post. Thanks for pointing out prices change as they do at the market. I didn't make this up,I was basing the post on hard facts available to me, not hearsay. There were no organic oranges when I made the original post.

    I noticed as I was writing the post over 24 hours that things changed. So it was just a snap shot of that moment in time.

    I have had trouble conclusively verifying that the prices online are on a par with in store although I thought I had heard somewhere that they are and I found this quote:

    "Safeway.com is a full-service online grocery store with the same quality products and low prices as a neighborhood Safeway. Customers can do all their shopping with just a few clicks, and groceries are delivered right to the door. For more information, please visit www.safeway.com."

    source

    I always understood that the charge was on the delivery portion of the bill.

     
  • At 23/5/07 14:07, Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said…

    Before we had a car, I used to shop at Safeway.com all the time and get our stuff delivered and I can vouch for the fact that prices as well as stock changed at an alarmly frequent rate.

    There were even many times when I couldn't get something as basic as fresh thyme for MONTHS! They kept giving me lemon thyme instead and being out of the regular stuff.

     
  • At 23/5/07 20:32, Blogger FaustianBargain said…

    if i remember right, san francisco has a ban on chain stores within city limits...with the possible exception of walgreens/rite aid because they are also pharmacies. in n' out, famously, is the only fast food chain that was given permission to operate in san francisco. given that, there is likely no safeway or raley's or albertsons or whatever within the city of san francisco because that's what the city wants and its one of the costs of living in an A tier city. am i wrong here? has this changed recently?

    the residents of san francisco have no choice except to order it in or get it from the farmers' market or from the bodegas. and of course, there is trader joes and whole foods. the ferry market plaza is the best thing that happened to them. might not be true for those who drive into san francisco, but other than driving across the bridge to marin, where else can they go? maybe someone would do a comparison of FP vs another farmers' market vs safewayish store.

     
  • At 23/5/07 21:06, Blogger Sam said…

    Hi Faustian Bargain

    there are many Safeways in San Francisco. The famous one from Mapin's Tales in The City in the Marina District and the one in Potrero near where I currently live are two that have been here as long as I have (6.5 years). A brand new Safeway opened recently in Mission Bay, only about a mile from the Ferry Building. There is another big Safeway on Market Street.

    And undoubtedly more.

    Theones I have listed are those I have personally visited.

    (For laundry detergent and toilet paper only of course)

     
  • At 23/5/07 21:09, Blogger FaustianBargain said…

    gotcha. my bad. i was under the impression that the city banned all chains..maybe its only for fast food stores? but then again, i have seen BK and McDs in the city. i dont know what i was thinking..

     
  • At 23/5/07 23:32, Anonymous rob said…

    Sam, I doubt I'm going to add anything new to this thread, but I did want to say how much I enjoyed your post. We accept so many things as simply perceived wisdom, so it's fascinating when someone actually takes the time to see if the emperor actually has some clothes. As a previous commenter mentioned, lower prices at the market would seem, intuitively, to be a product of removing the middleman. Of course, that could just be more perceived wisdom. Any chance you'll be trying to find out why the prices are lower? Might you be willing to interview some of the farmers/vendors at the market to get their impression. I'd imagine some of them must sell to some of the grocery chains.

     
  • At 24/5/07 09:44, Blogger wheresmymind said…

    Though I love farmers markets...have to use their veggies super quick or they are gonna go bad

     
  • At 25/5/07 13:16, Blogger mo said…

    I, too, thought I might throw my 2 cents into this discussion.

    I, personally, agree with a lot of what was said here: http://www.slowfoodforum.org/showthread.php?p=4030 about the fact that if Sr. Petrini was walking around with Alice Waters, I'm sure that it seemed like there were at least celebrity groupies (as Ms. Waters is a foodie celebrity around these parts) and people happy to show off their produce as "jewels". However, I think that valuing gorgeous, healthy produce is something Mr. Petrini should be promoting. I also object to the use of the word "actress" (was Sharon Stone there that day?), but maybe that was a translation issue.

    The one main point I want to make, though, is that you don't have to be wealthy to shop at the FBFM. I, for example, am by no means wealthy. I make about double the minimum wage. I spend (in two weeks) what the Department of Labor says the average american spends on food in one. However, I can still afford to shop at the FBFM. I may not be able to buy as much as others, but I still eat well.

    In the end, it seems to me that what Mr. Petrini wrote were shallow observations without any research behind them. So as his observations, in his pov, they're true. However, for a book coming from the leader of Slow Food, that is about the state of food in our nation, it would have been nice if he'd taken the time to do the research and find the real truth.

     
  • At 26/5/07 19:08, Blogger Catherine said…

    HI Sam,

    Certainly the experience of going to a Farmers Market and enjoying the wide choice and ambiance of local vendors is worth it's weight in gold. I hate going to Safeway and am constantly scheming how to get things I need by avoiding it. I don't recall the last time shopping at Safeway inspired me to cook something. Certainly, herbs at an FM are much cheaper. I go to the small Corte Madera FM and have a regular vendor who is 100% organic and much cheaper than Safeway. That said, there's another vendor who is always massively over-priced and I never buy from him. For flowers, I tend to go to Trader Joe's these days.

     
  • At 27/5/07 21:30, Blogger neil said…

    I wrote a post on our local Farmer's market and pointed out some price discrepencies between a few items, one of which were oysters that were much cheaper just up the road at a traditional market. I contacted the market organizers to let them know I had done a post about them and surprise, surprise, the next month, the oyster seller dropped his prices. Sometimes it doesn't hurt to complain.

     
  • At 4/6/07 21:54, Blogger Anita said…

    It's the same in Seattle:

    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2003733548_farmers04.html

    "Farmers-market food costs less, class finds"

     
  • At 26/7/08 03:09, Anonymous Box Joe said…

    Good Job! :)

     
  • At 24/10/08 09:57, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU!! I just organized a Farmer's Market for my community (ok, really it was for myself, because well, I wanted one!) and so far it has done pretty well.

    But the main complaint I hear, is the expense of the products. I wish people would pay more attention to what they are buying at their local big-box grocery store. Almost all of the produce at our FM is organic, we also have beef, pork, eggs, chicken, seafood, and cheese - ALL of which are locally produced. The beef, chicken, pork are all hormone and antibiotic free, the cheese is made locally by the only cheese maker in the entire state (this may give you a hint as to our location....it's a "wicked small state").

    I am totally going to do the same thing you did - I'm shopping and comparing for our customers, they need to see hard evidence, otherwise they make ignorant statements.

    THANK YOU! I no longer feel so alone in my unconditional love of my FM...I too would drag my hung-over-butt out of bed to get to my FM, fortunately for me....it doesn't start until 3pm!!

    Tracie

     

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