Ahhh, the farmer’s market. Land of fresh local produce, bouquets of technicolor flowers, unique cheeses & baked goods, and low prices.
Low prices? Yes. I’ve said it several times and I will keep repeating myself until I’m blue in the face: if you’re looking for fabulous produce at affordable prices, your local farmer’s market is the way to go.
It’s counterintuitive, especially in this day & age of everything “sustainable” and “organic” (and therefore, “expensive”) being so en vogue it might as well don a white studded belt, listen to indie rock and call itself a hipster. But if you shop wisely and stay away from most of the money traps, you can escape this promised land of produce with some incredibly delicious bargains.
I hadn’t planned on heading to the farmer’s market for this month’s $25 Shopping Cart, but it had been so long since I’d been that I could no longer resist its siren call. And it just so happened that after paying all my bills and getting things ready for BlogHer Food next month (I’m going as a volunteer!), I was left with exactly $26 to spend on some produce to go with my bare-bones staples. In cash, no less! Perfect farmer’s market currency. I took that as a sign, grabbed my camera, my granny cart and a friend, and walked to my food mecca.
After the initial euphoria of being surrounded by everything fresh and alive with colors & textures, I finally settled down and started looking at prices. Some things that aren’t yet in season, like tomatoes, were a bit on the spendy side, but most things were as affordably priced as ever. Here’s what I got:
- 1 bunch of golden beets – $2.50
- 1 bunch of white & yellow carrots – $2
- 1 bag (about 2 lbs) of minneolas – $2
- 3 bunches of cilantro – $1
- 2 bunches of scallions – $1
- 1 bag of Thai basil – $1
- 1 bunch of chives – $0.50
- 1 large bunch of red beets – $1.50
- 5 lb bag of turnips – $2 (!!!)
- 1 giant bunch of rainbow chard – $1.50
- 1 lb bag of dried fava beans – $1
- 1 large bunch of asparagus – $1.75
- 1 8 oz. beer bottle of local honey – $3.50
- 1 bag of 4 delicate endives – $2
Grand total: $23.25! I could have never done that at a regular grocery store.
The last two items were total splurges, of course. But there was no way in hell I was going to leave a bag of endives at that price, and the local honey is actually something I’m trying for my seasonal allergies. I was actually pretty surprised that it was sold at such a low price since some varieties I’ve seen at the farmer’s market have been much more expensive.
But I think my absolute favorite find was the bag of minneolas. A member of the tangelo family, these little guys are part tangerine, part grapefruit, and 100% delicious. They’re slightly sweeter than tangerines, incredibly juicy, and so lovely in a color that you can’t help but smile with delight when you look at them.
Overall, this is was a fantastic start to my farmer’s market season, and I can’t wait to start cooking with all my treasures. Between this and the dried legumes & whole grains, I have in my cupboard, this upcoming Scary Week won’t be scary at all.
Now if I can just convince StuKitty to stay away from my Swiss chard…