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Jun 24, 2013 03:19 PM

Farmers Market Feedback

Hi all

I made my second trip to the summer market in the West End this past weekend and I have to say I was a little let down. I am an off and on farmers market type, since I do see value in purchasing from reputable local sources and the support it lends to local business. That said, I find I get sticker shock when perusing the market sometimes.

I have read several of Michael Pollan's books and I recognize that cheap food isn't really cheap, that we are paying for it in a multitude of other ways. Also I understand that most North Americans spend a far smaller proportion of their budget on food than people do in other developed parts of the world.

That said, this weekend I looked at stall after stall that carried lovely heads of garlic for $3 a piece. Very small zucchini that were $1.50 each. Even the local strawberries, which I agree are lovely this year were about twice the price of local strawberries I found at Kin's on Davie Street.

I always here from American Chowhounds on this site about the great deals they are getting at farmer's markets and it seems to me that the Vancouver equivalent is a different sort of beast.

Does anyone have any thoughts on the topic.

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  1. Totally with ya on the sticker shock, delys. My brain understands all the arguments for why this happens but my wallet rebels! That being said, I do shop for local and in some cases organic produce at my greengrocers, where the markup seems to be less, in most every case. Knowing full well I am still giving up some of the freshness and immediacy going that route, it allows me to "splurge" on things like artisanal apple cider and cheese at the farmers' markets.

    1 Reply
    1. re: grayelf

      I agree, I find the baked goods, cheeses, and pâté I purchased were very tasty and reasonable value. I'll likely take the same approach and continue to be very selective when I visit the market.

    2. We rarely do the farmers' market, and when we do it's at the Little Mountain (Riley Park/Hillcrest) location. I think as you already recognized, these vendors simply can't leverage the economies of scale that larger operations (and their wholesale buyers) can offer. So that $1.50 zucchini may be about as cheap as that vendor can sell it for and still make some margin, however little. It definitely hurts the wallet, and we are quite selective in what we buy from a FM anywhere (ie: traveling. Olympia has a great waterfront farmers' market if anyone's ever there:


      I digress.

      Here's a good read on the subject, my wife's colleague has the full article somewhere, maybe I can get it from them:

      1 Reply
      1. re: LotusRapper

        Thanks Lotus Rapper, I wonder why it seems that US markets are more cost effective. Maybe a combination of better growing conditions and a larger market, but even then one would think small farmers would still suffer from diseconomies of scale on both sides of the border.

      2. I was at the kits market yesterday too and went for a few specific things...

        - eggs (sold out everywhere)
        - oyster guy (not there)
        - wild mushrooms like morels etc. (none there)
        - heirloom tomatoes. Got some nice ones at a decent prices.

        Also picked up some leafy greens and stuff. But over all kinda underwhelmed. Sigh

        3 Replies
        1. re: Jzone

          The mushroom guy was at the west end market this past weekend.

          1. re: delys77

            He had enokis and shiitakes etc, but no morels :( Looks like another bad morel season this year darnit.

        2. We also tend to shop for bakes and preserves at the markets and go for the green stuff only if something really catches our eye. I think part of the problem is that we have a very short growing season here, which is quickly derailed by bad weather (anyone remember the rains last year?). Prices for veggies tend to get a bit better later in the summer, and the quality improves as well. I must admit we were very disappointed in our FM haul a few weeks ago -- the quality just wasn't there, which added insult to the injurious prices. Hoping for better in July...

          1 Reply
          1. re: À la carte

            They are all Clip Joints and $3 for a head of Garlic is robbery.

          2. Found a bit more at the BCFMA site (scroll down thru page):