Farmer’s Market Loot

December 4th

public market

The Phoenix Farmer’s market has about two dozen vendors selling a a variety of items — from fresh produce, to duck and chicken eggs, to preserves and fresh baked bread. I enjoyed wandering around the stalls and making my selections. I was frugal and selective. However, as I feared, my $20 did not go very far.

squash in the morning light
beans for $4 a bag

My produce alone cost $17.85. The loaf of bread was $3. The honey was $4. While the produce tastes wonderful — so full of flavor — I wouldn’t be shopping here if I was on food stamps. This sack of groceries cost me $25.

$25 at the farmer's market

I met the woman who organizes the fair and she was so welcoming and kind. I will continue to shop here — the olive bread and tomatoes I bought are out of this world — but I do not think this is a practical answer to those shopping with food stamps in Arizona.

This experiment has reconfirmed my desire to learn how to cook, bake, can and jar, and garden more than ever. It isn’t so much about saving money as being more self-sufficient. How great would it be to give homemade loaves of bread and jars of tomato sauce (from veggies grown in your own garden) for holiday gifts? Next year, absoloodle.


P.S. Check out what Laura (LLA) of Atlanta got for $10 at her grocery by also using coupons and smarts. Awesome!

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Journal, Public Health
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13 Responses

  1. That stuff looks awesome but I agree, a farmer’s market isn’t the easiest place to shop if you are on a budget.
    It’s a great feeling to be able to give people food you’ve made yourself-every year I say I’m going to can salsa and I never get around to it. I do make all our own bread (not as crazy/difficult as it sounds), so if you ever want some tips……

  2. You have really openned my eyes to something that I never really think of. Little did I know, for years while struggling to get my career going, I qualified for food stamps. Even when working full time for major companies, I qualified. My struggle paid off and I’m no where near that qualifying salary, but I forgot so much about how I starved. I lived on my share of ramine noodles. I didn’t know how to cook, so rice did me no good. I remember being given an eggplant, only to watch it rot. I had no idea what to do with it. I happy to say that I am now a good cook, but having time and equipment to cook makes a difference. When I was struggling, I had neither.

    After going to lunch with my husband the other day, I looked at the 34 dollar bill and immediately thought of the food stamp project you took on. I realized how much I wasted on that meal that could of gone so much further.

    I will share more of my success with those not so fortunate. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I’m looking forward to you PB&J post.

  3. Yeah, farmers markets are great – and my preferred method of procurring groceries – but they are great because of the freshness and variety they provide. They are not so great because of the cost and time associated with shopping them. I think those are two big reasons why they don’t work for those on aid.

    Something we have in Santa Clara County (CA) is the Second Harvest food bank which collects and distributes not only grocery items but also overabundant crops from home gardeners. They make these fresh vegetables available to those coming to the food bank for assistance along with the regular grocery items. So, they’re able to take home sacks of tomatoes, zucchini, lettuce, etc from local gardens to go with their canned and packaged items. It’s also good for gardeners that return from their vacations to find one million cucumbers weighing down their plants, let’s just say…

  4. Sarah HB December 4, 2006

    Farmer’s Markets are not the way to save $$ on a budget. Every now and again you get lucky but not usually!

    Love your Advent Calendars. My kids are hooked on the chocolate ones and Simon wants to eat his the minute he gets up.

  5. Love Farmer’s Market. As a former vendor, let me advise that the best way to get stuff cheaper is go go right at the end. Vendors will usually cut you a deal just so they don’t have to cart it all home and have it go into the compost heap. And our local (Lawrence, Kansas) market takes food stamps! And we also participate in a program that helps elderly people on a fixed income make purchase food that is run (I think) by our Kansas Department on Aging.

    This has been a great set of posts, Kelli. Thanks for opening the eyes of so many.

  6. I’ve totally gifted bread before. 🙂

  7. I too have enjoyed your posts about food stamps and surviving on a very limited budget. I do not think we have food stamps here in the UK, there are milk tokens for families with babies (free formula basically, presumably to discourage those on low incomes to breastfeed, with the health benefits that would have given them- you can get the formula tokens swapped for real milk tokens, but it takes some phone calls and letter writing to do this, and several weeks/months to sort out, in my experience) but I think that is all, though I may be wrong. our supermarkets often run buy-one-get-one-free offers which are money saving. Our farmers markets are really out of reach of people on a low wage/no wage, the produce is so expensive. My neighbour has just started an organic veg box scheme, and at the moment it is working out very good value, cheaper than buying organic veg from the shops.
    Growing stuff yourself is the cheapest of course but many people do not have access to a garden they can grow produce in, or the skills to first grow it then cook it, being so used to processed ready made foods. I think in the US fast food takeaways are even cheaper to eat at then in the UK. We should be teaching our chidren about vegetables and fruit and giving them the skills to prepare and cook stuff.

  8. Since moving to our new house, we have been a’gardenin’… and there is something deeply satisfying about it.

    This year, we grew 10 or 15 types of veggies, and about the same number of different flower varieties. We even had okra, dill, and onion come up onits own — my guess is there were seeds in the compost.

    I’ve already started planning for next Spring… it’s a grreat winter pastime for us northerners, to imagine the yard full of green again.

    Best of luck!

  9. oh no way!! I LOVE white peppers. I got them once at Whole FOods and they are definately my favorite pepper! YUMMY!!! 🙂

  10. I have only one thing to say: fresh market is ALWAYS more expernsive, quality costs. But the flavor……..mmmmmmm……………

  11. I have only one thing to say: fresh market is ALWAYS more expensive, quality costs. But the flavor……..mmmmmmm……………

  12. We do canning, just for that reason and it is very satisfying during those winter months. I love reading about your coupon adventures as it’s something I’m trying to do more of.

  13. anne marie December 8, 2006

    this is in response to jess’s post-

    yout post reminded me- i can’t remember where i read it, but a gardener referred to veggies which grew on their own- maybe from seeds in the compost he used- as volunteers.