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Real Food On a Budget – Coupons Can’t Help! — 3 Comments

  1. I’ve been working towards more whole foods and less processed junk for a while at my house. Unfortunately, I have not found the very common advice “buy at the Farmer’s Market” to help the budget at all. Most of the time, in fact, I find that the prices are higher – sometimes 2 or 3 times higher – than at my local Whole Foods market. For instance, I purchased a bunch of organic green onions at the farmer’s market one day for $2.50, and a pound of cremini mushrooms for $6 / pound. The same day, I went to Whole Foods and saw an organic bunch of green onions for only $1.25, and the same cremini mushrooms, from the same vendor, even, for only $2.99 / pound.

    So I’ve become very suspicious of farmer’s markets. I think there are *some* bargains to be found there, but you have to watch carefully and know what things cost at the store. The farmer’s market vendors know that everybody online is telling people to shop there for better prices, but without anything to compare against right there, we’re getting taken. It’s unfortunate, but true.

    I actually don’t even mind paying a *little* extra for fresher, local produce at the farmer’s market – but 2 or 3 times more is more than my budget can handle.

    • Hi Valerie,

      You’re going in the right direction by eating whole foods and avoiding processed junk, but I understand that eating real food can cost more. Unfortunately, as you have learned, farmers’ markets, and their vendors, aren’t all the same. Some farmers’ markets have vendors that just buy for resale–like the mushrooms, at a higher price. However, the good ones have farmers selling what they grow themselves–those are the best bargains, both for price and for health since usually the produce has just been picked. I’ve found that prices from vendors selling their own local produce are fairly close to what you would pay for organic food in the grocery store. Also, the local produce should be fresher and healthier. You will need to talk to the farmer/vendor about his farm–where he lives, how he treats his land (organic practices, etc.). Is he really local, where did he get his food, does he welcome visitors? I would guess that the mushrooms you bought are not local (rarely does locally grown produce even have a brand name). If they’re not local, you’re not getting true, local farmers’ pricing. If the ones in the store are the same brand and organic, just buy the less expensive ones at the store. Buy truly local produce at the farmers’ market. You will need to be careful even at Whole Foods, not all of their produce is organic, which may be one reason it is cheaper.

      You may have seen my post about my favorite farmers market–Love That Farmers Market Produce! It’s my kind of farmers market, and the prices are usually very reasonable.

      Carolyn

  2. Valerie,
    I suggest bringing a sales price listing from a local Co-Op found in the paper, or print one out to bring with you to the farmers market! also, making an excel spreadsheet and keeping track of how much you spend on common goods will give you enough info to feel more confident in the prices found at the farmers market.

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