Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Cost Of Buying Local Produce...

For several years in the mid 1990's, there used to be a bi-weekly farmer's market in a nearby neighbourhood. Everything was grown or made within about 60 miles of the city. It was great and well worth the 10 minute walk each way - even on a hot, muggy Saturday morning.

I really enjoyed going there. Getting such fresh produce was a treat to the taste buds. The quality was excellent and the people were friendly. The prices were very reasonable.

When my health deteriorated in the late 1990's I had to quit going. By the time I could have gone again, the market had ceased to operate. There was an organic market nearby where the old one was, but I couldn't afford the prices and I really didn't think the quality was as good - at least not for the prices they were charging!

There was a fruit and veggie store that operated here in the Village for a brief time, but the owner was unable to compete with the prices of the main competitor in the area which was Canada Safeway. She was forced to close after a few months.

There are a few other farmer's markets around the city, but none are really accessible for me, so I got used to buying my produce at Price Chopper and Superstore. Whenever the opportunity arose, I jumped at offers of fresh produce from friends and family.

A weekly farmer's market was launched in my neighbourhood back in June of this year. It was every Thursday evening from 4:00-8:00PM. I thought this sounded like a great idea, as it would feature locally grown produce, home baking and hand made crafts. I went to one of the first weeks but there really wasn't any garden stuff at that point as it was too early in the season.

Well between my post foot surgeries immobility, the heat of summer afternoons and generally being broke - I ended up missing pretty much the whole season - until this past Thursday afternoon.

I was down to one potato and hadn't bothered to buy my usual weekly purchase of "tomatoes on the vine" at Superstore as I had promised myself that I would go to the second last market of the season and buy some local ones.

When I got there, about 10 minutes before 4, there were only a few booths setting up and only 2 had fresh produce.

The first one had some fresh herbs, but they looked wilted. The carrots were cleaned and tops cut off, but they wanted $1.00/pound. The cucumbers were 50 cents for the medium ones and $1.00 for the larger ones. They were all on the chubby side, which generally means older and a lot more seeds and not as flavourful. Not much else looked interesting at that booth and I didn't ask any more prices.

I moved on to the second booth. They had tomatoes and potatoes. Both looked fresh and healthy. I asked the price of the tomatoes.

"$2.00/pound". I nodded as I inwardly gasped at the price. I could have had "tomatoes on the vine" for under $1.20/pound at Superstore! I couldn't justify the price, even considering that they were local.

I braced myself and asked how much the potatoes were. "$4.00 for a 2 pound bag - freshly dug and cleaned today!"

I didn't say a word, but what I thought was; $4.00 FOR 2 POUNDS??? Are you out of your mind?? For that price, you better be coming to my home and preparing them as well!! Price Chopper has the 10 pound bag of Canadian grown red potatoes on for $4.95 till September 27.

This is insane! I'm all for buying local products and supporting local and independent businesses, but this was highway robbery!! Even Safeway is cheaper than what these people were charging! I didn't ask if the produce was organic, but even if it was, it is still over priced.

I'm going back to Price Chopper and Superstore for my produce next week. I know I'm sacrificing some flavour by not purchasing local - especially with the tomatoes - but I refuse to pay such inflated prices. I'm not made of money!

Who knows, maybe a friend or family member will take pity on me and offer me a couple of fresh tomatoes - just so I can have a taste! I still haven't had my tomato sandwich!!


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