Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Trip to the Farmer's Market Never Fails to Induce Guilt

I read Mother Earth News. I grow some vegetables and fruits in my yard with varying success. I see the wisdom and veracity in eating local. I was one of the few subscribers to the one and only CSAs in our valley while it existed. I love that my town has a farmers market. But apparently that market is not meant for me. 

When I lived in LA I could fill to overflowing two or three canvas bags with fruits and veg for $20 or $30. More than I could prepare in a week. But we were dinks then. Still, it didn't break my budget. And I dare say they were farther flung farms from LA than the Coachella Valley where I am now, no doubt driving farther than they'd have to to reach Palm Desert. 

I went to the farmers market this morning thinking, "Perfect. I have $20 in my wallet and I haven't been able to get to the grocery store in a week. I'll be able to knock out my family's fruit and veg needs before work!"

Uh, not so much. While I subscribe to the wisdom of eat local, eat organic, I can't manage to squash it into my family's grocery budget at the store. This, claim innumerable articles in all those hippie foodie magazines I read, is where your local farmers market comes in. Just buy direct from the farmer, you're cutting out the middleman, so getting it at a great price. 

Again, not so much. I don't know if it is because I live in a city considered affluent by outsiders that the prices were so high but with one quarter of my weekly food budget in my pocket I could have afforded exactly fixins for one large salad. That would have been a great meal no doubt. But how could any responsible parent spend one fourth of their weekly food budget on one meal?

If I shopped at my local Bristol Farms I'd be hard pressed to spend $4 on one head of organic lettuce. And these farmers were not even claiming designation of organic, all difficulty in obtaining that designation aside, what, I wonder would I be paying for?  As lovely as that head of lettuce may be or as tasty as those $5 a pound cucumbers I'm certain are, that does not get around the fact that the farmers market is MORE expensive than our highest end market. 

Is this really the way it's supposed to be?  I want to support farmers and I felt awful leaving empty handed this morning, but if supporting them means that I don't have enough to feed my family, how does that help anybody?

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