Wednesday, May 9, 2012

on going to the market.

so, with farmer's market season in full swing, i'd like to compare notes.
i'm not the best at shopping farmer's markets - i always end up unsure of how much things will weigh and they price it per pound and before you know it i've bought three tomatoes for seven bucks.
le sigh.
before every visit i take out twenty bucks and that's my budget. i can be under. but i can't go over. it's been helpful in the learning process.
so let's start with what i know. what i consider staples. what are my musts.
milk.
eggs.
leafy green things.
a lot of produts procured at farmer's markets, to my palette, don't taste different from my trader joe's fare. but i like supporting local farmers, so i'm game. but milk? oh man does it make a difference. i get my milk from ronnybrook farm and i've never looked back. it's amazing how much better it tastes (and how much better they treat their cows).
eggs are a no brainer -  the price is clear (no pay per pound nervousness when you get those puppies!)
lastly, as of late i've been getting my basil and spinach at the market. the market is a great place to pick up veggies you wouldn't normally have on hand - say you make a stop at the grocery store and the market in one week - it's a way to refresh the dwindling pile of produce. at mine i find it important to shop around - prices range a lot and the taste can, too. i finally found a spinach that $4/lb as opposed to $4/ 1/4 lb (whaaaat?) that's tasty, too. i like getting something easy like spinach or string beans - they're easty to sautee (former) or roast (latter) and add to any meal without spending additional time in the kitchen.
any my don'ts?
yogurt.
and a lot of things grown in a fashion that starts with the prefix "hypo-"
on the yogurt...i just can't. i tried. it was disgusting. and that's that.
i've found that things grown with the prefix "hypo-" means that they're water supply is greatly regulated and specially piped to the plants and stuff like that (correct me if i'm wrong). and then you have 3 tomatoes for $7 or a handful of spinach for $5. i only have a grocery budget for myself so i can splurge every now and then but come on farmers. really? when i was growing up a neighbor would put out tomatoes in little baskets and ask for a one dollar ($1!) and anyone walking or driving by could take a basket and give a dollar. i know it's not rocket science to grow them. i want to support you, but meet me halfway.
experience has helped me progress from feeling like i'm trying to avoid the judgmental eyes of hippies and not to be a pushover. what are your tricks of the trade if you shop them? and if you don't, what do you wish you could get if you had one (and maybe i can try it out!)?
oh, and the cider donuts and the flowers. it's ok to give into those every now and then.

11 comments:

  1. Farmer’s markets in London tend to be very expensive, although saying that, I have only ever been to the markets in the city. They have recently started one in the suburb just next to mine which I have been dying to visit (c’mon British weather!). Fresh bread, strawberries, eggs, weird veggies you can’t find in the supermarket, and occasionally venison and seafood are staples for me.

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  2. I love farmer's markets and I'm so glad they're starting up again. Since we bought a share with a local CSA (community sustained agriculture), I don't shop at farmer's markets as much as I used to. When I do, it's usually for just a few small things because, like you, I can't judge weight/price at all. I just stick to one or two of each thing that I want! Flowers are always good finds, and little homemade things like bread, tortillas, donuts are a fave. Plus, we don't get those in our CSA so I justify the splurge. :)

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  3. Farmers markets intimidate me. I don't get how they work so I don't go. I'm a grocery store girl who loves frozen veggies. Maybe someday I'll be brave.

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  4. This post was so helpful! I love going to the farmer's market but I'm still in that stage of wondering what I'm supposed to pay/feeling like I'm personally responsible for killing the environment because I don't buy all my produce from the farmer's market. I'm interested in getting eggs so I'm glad to know that's a no-brainer. Spinach is also on my list, which you covered prices on that. I'm wondering about kale? Or is that even in season? And good to know about the "hypo" things. We're going to attempt to grow our own tomatoes but last year was an epic fail, so we'll see. Such an informative post, I like it!

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    1. haha yes - they are very good at making you feel that way! so up here i saw kale for the first time - i'm going to try and get some when i go next time because i have a recipe involving kale that i want to post. the kale i saw was different than something like spinach - it's not sold in loose leaves but in a bundle (think like a head of lettuce). i think the pricing was still per pound. i always take a a twenty dollar bill with me and that's my budget - so after i get my milk it's kind of whatever else makes it/learning how much things cost once i actually get them. it's a good (and affordable way) to learn what farmers to buy from in terms of price and quality.

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  5. I don't think I have ever seen eggs, milk, or yogurt for sale at my farmer's market, but I do love to go. The quality and the price can't be beat, especially compared to supermarkets. Oh, we also get good local honey at the farmer's markets around here (and ok, I am a sucker for the guy who makes the fresh crepes).

    *Erin

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  6. OH, the market!! I LIVE for the market!

    In Boston we have the Copley Square Farmer's Market and you just got me so excited about it-- I bet it's opening soon! I always like to get fruits and veggies. And cheese, too. I've never thought to buy milk but maybe I'll look into it this year. I also always like to get myself a pastry. I just can't help myself. And flowers are a must, I agree!

    Oh, and banana bread. Chocolate chip banana bread. I always seem to make it home with a loaf of that as well...

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    1. yeah it's usually hard to avoid taking home a good baked good. for me, it's donuts.

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  7. Love this! You know I love the farmers market. I don't think ours carries milk... I will have to check next time I go, if it really is as good as you say it is! I also always shop around for prices. Sometimes I end up going with the best tasting produce though. Like last time I went with the juciest red tomatoes I tried a sample of and didn't even look at the price. Having a $20 limit sounds like a good idea. Haha

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  8. Ooh, reading these comments is so helpful! What a great post.

    Can you believe our local market doesn't open until the middle of June?! Iamsuffering....

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