Three cheers for my produce market!

If you don't already think that I'm strange, you may very well think so now: I just love shopping for produce! I actually get excited about getting to go and do it!

Not just anywhere, though. I love shopping for produce at my local market (2 EE's, for those who live near me), and especially in the fall during harvest time. Today, I visited my beloved market for the first time in about 5 weeks (prior to our 2 week vacation, I hadn't gone for a while to try to use up what I had and make good use of my own garden produce).

I must have been looking around at the fruits and vegetables admiringly, because one of the employees asked me what I thought of it with a smile on his face, and I said enthusiastically, "Everything looks just amazing!" because it really did.

Perhaps it's because it's the end of the Indian summer we've been enjoying, and all the local produce is out in full force. Perhaps it's that there is no where else around here where I can get organic and unsprayed and local produce for such reasonable prices. Perhaps it's that learning to garden and to buy more seasonally has really opened my eyes to the marvelous variety that's out there, and taught me to fully enjoy the changing seasons and the harvest that accompanies them.

I believe that the only things I purchased today that were not local and seasonal were a few avacados and a bag of lemons. Other than that, the aisles and bins were bursting forth with broccoli, cabbages, corn, peppers, kale, potatoes, herbs, plums, pears, grapes and squash, and multiple varieties of each at that. They were fresh, vibrant and gorgeous, and so full of nutrients and amazing flavor that I could practically taste them. Not only does this type of produce rarely make it's way into a grocery store, but even if it does you'll pay far more than you should for it.

I left almost giddy, as I made away like a bandit with all that you see in the picture (most of it organic or unsprayed, and there's more food than it looks like in the photo), for a mere $33.

Can I just say, once more for the record (scratch that- I know that I'll keep on saying it again and again), seek out a produce market near you! Find a local farmer! Search for a farmer's market (or here for Canadians), or a CSA program or a Food Coop, or any other source of local, seasonal produce you can get your hands on! You will not regret it!

Do you use a Produce or Farmer's Market? Where you do find the best quality produce for the best prices? Am I the only one who gets excited about buying fruits and vegetables? :)

About Stephanie Langford

Stephanie Langford has a passion for sharing ideas and information for homemakers who want to make healthy changes in their homes, and carefully steward all that they've been given. She has written three books geared to helping families live more naturally and eat real, whole foods, without being overwhelmed, without going broke and with simple meal planning. She is the creator of Keeper of the Home.

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Comments

  1. Haha, I don’t think that’s strange. I like to shop for produce too! I’m only 17, but I still love shopping for healthy things. I actually work at a fruit market near where I live so I get to learn about different things and right now we are selling fun harvest decorations like gourds and the little pumpkins and stuff. It’s so much fun!

  2. Good for you, Sara! You’re going to love gardening! Even with a small space, it’s amazing how much you can do, when it’s that fresh it just tastes unbelievable. Have fun planning it all out this winter!

  3. Sara Maher says:

    I too adore shopping the farmer’s market here. I find that although all the produce is local, it is not all organic. I try to buy the organic, but it is REALLY expensive. I have been spending between $60-$80 for about what you have pictured. There is only one certified organic farm in our whole state! I too, have been making connections through our homeschool e-mail loop and freecycle to find people who have excess of items and have traded a bit. Because of your blog, I have started so many “natural living” things in my home, and organic when possible is one. My garden this year is fairly small, but I have the book “Square Foot Gardening”, a seed catalog from Heirloom Seeds.com, and am making big plans for next year. Then I won’t have to pay the high prices for organic, I’ll have my own!!!

  4. I live in a place that is just perfect for growing many kinds of produce (NW Arkansas). Unfortunately, most of it is shipped elsewhere. There are only a handful of way over-priced farmers markets to choose around here. If you live in this area, your best bet is to grow your own, which I do a little of in my small yard, or go straight to the farmers. I scored a GREAT deal on some unsprayed apples the other day from an older lady who has a few trees in her yard and is no longer able to keep up with all the apples herself. You can still find some good deals out there if you are resourceful!

  5. Hey Tara- you live so close! Ralph’s is also really great, though I do find 2 EE’s slightly cheaper, but with where you’re coming from, it would be quite a drive.

    Gina, squash recipes kids love… mine actually really like it when I cut the squash in half and bake it with butter and a bit of sea salt, and we just scoop it out and eat it as is. We also really like this recipe:
    http://www.keeperofthehome.org/2008/01/menu-plan-mon-1.html (12 clove garlic squash- really yummy casserole style). We also do baked spaghetti squash and then top it with tomato sauce, just like pasta. Anyone else have any other ideas?

  6. I try to hit Ralph’s Farm market in Langley on the fraser hwy when I can, in abby there isn’t to much. THey have a lot of organic selection the produce is always nice and I don’t have to pick thru it and they are Christian and always playing christian music in the store, and of course the prices are great!

  7. You’ve encouraged me to check out our local farmer’s market this weekend. They will be wrapping them up here pretty soon, what with the weather getting colder. Enjoy your fresh foods:) If you have any squash recipes that kids love… I’d love to hear it:)

  8. You certainly aren’t the only one who gets excited! I LOVE looking at produce. The color and variety in what God has created thrills me. It speaks volumes about His care for us, and His creative power. He is so good!

  9. I adore shopping at farmers’ markets, and in the winter time, I can definitely save money over the grocery stores. I get huge bunches of greens (kale, collards, etc) for $1 each. It’s awesome! The winter squashes are well-priced too. A lot of other foods are too expensive for me to buy at the farmers’ market, and many times I have to choose fresh and local over organic for budget reasons.

    It definitely sounds like your produce market is priced lower than farmers’ markets around here. I’m tempted to be a little envious, but maybe I’ll practice being excited for you instead! ;-)

  10. Those grapes look amazing! I buy my produce from a variety of places. A local farmers stand, a local health store (that stocks a lot of local, organic food), and a little market that has some organic and mostly local vegetables.

    I totally relate. I get so excited about looking at beautiful produce. :-)

  11. Nola, thanks for your comment and suggestions for those who live somewhere colder or more isolated. It sounds to me like you’re really figuring out how to work with what you’ve got. I love that you’re going to try a cold frame. I was thinking of doing the same thing, because there are still a few hot weather veggies that I just can’t grow well (peppers, etc.), and also so that I can grow a bit earlier and later in the season.

    And no, you’re not the only one who gets tired by it all. I’m going to post about the preserving stuff I’ve been doing this week, and quite frankly, it’s Thursday now (I’ve been going hard since Saturday morning) and I’m worn out. I don’t even want to look at my canner (though I’m still admiring the newly filled jars up on the shelf). I think that harvest time in particular can be a bit draining, especially if you’ve been working hard to grow and/or preserve other foods all summer. I’m eager for it to be over, and yet I’m so thankful for the ability to preserve it at all. I think this winter, life will seem a lot slower with no garden, canning, etc.! :)

  12. I LOVE to buy produce. We have a twice monthly farmer’s market, as well as a regular produce stand. I was just there this morning, reveling in the beautiful acorn squash, rutabagas, pumpkins, muscadines, etc that have come in. I love to cook seasonally. It is so gratifying to wait for a fruit/vegetable to come into season…not buying mediocre produce year around. It is even more enjoyable, when you have waited all year for it!

  13. I love farmers markets! I haven’t been to one in a few weeks, since they all seem to be on days when I don’t go into town, but I’m REALLY gonna miss them when winter comes. As it is, I think they’ll only be around for a couple more weeks around here.

  14. Where I live there isn’t as much choice, as its also a really short growing season here (not unusual for snow in May or even June, and they have been calling for snow lately and we had frost here Sept. 15th. I find that frustrating, also since I like to garden, but this is also where God has placed us.

    There is a small farmer’s market here, with about 8-10 vendors, but only about 3-4 of them I trust. Some I know for sure do not grow organically. The 3-4 that do and who I trust I do buy from. But again because of our growing season its a short-term thing and there isn’t much there. This year I got a lot of zuchinni since mine all rotted due to almost constant rain, and also some cucumbers (most of mine also rotted) and some carrots. I bought a bushel and am still working through them washing, peeling, blanching and freezing. Its cheaper than buying organic carrots (or actually other carrots too) from the store in the winter. All of this does take a lot of work though and I am very tired nowdays.

    I do get excited about fruit and vegetables too when I can get it fresh and in good condition. I wish I was closer to a main centre where there is more choices for farmer’s markets and stuff.

    I find that the best way to find good prices, especially in an area like mine where there is not much selection, is to ask, ask and ask around again and again. Develop relationships with people who grow things and see what they have. Talk to them about what you are looking for, even if they don’t have it. Let them know what you are doing. I have found people that are more than willing to help. Most people around here at least are very happy to see a “young” person canning, preserving, eating healthy etc. People have been slowly getting to know me, and therefore I am finding they are also willing to give me some deals on things since I have developed a relationship with them.

    The only unfourtunate part of the farmer’s market here is that it is still not very good prices. I can’t pay over $1 a pound for organic tomatoes, for example. A lot of the time, I can buy cheaper stuff in my local grocery store. Yes I know its not organic and its not local probably, but sometimes budgets are tight and I find I can’t pay more. I do find though that if I am buying a lot of something, some farmers/home gardeners will give me a deal. More likely people who are just home gardeners selling their excess. I just ask polietly “if I buy a lot, is there a deal?” and sometimes there is.

    I do still find the BEST way to ensure my food is good quality, local etc. is to grow my own. This winter I am looking into having my DH make a cold frame for me. Maybe then I can actually grow a pepper in my climate. We’ll see! :) Its fun to try.

    Do you ever find though that the sheer amount of work from doing all these sorts of things is very difficult at times to do? My energy is really low now with pregnancy but I am trying to do my best.

  15. How funny, I just found my first one this weekend. I went to Findlay Market in Cincinnati. http://www.findlaymarket.org/
    I didn’t buy anything because I was out of grocery money for the month, but I hope to go back this weekend now that we are in a new budget cycle. It was so exciting.

    There were organic sweet potatoes for comparable prices to the regular ones at the grocery store and I haven’t been able to find organic sweet potatoes in over a year at the store. And apples for 50 cents a pound! I’m heading back as soon as I can.

  16. So fun that you know the place I’m talking about! Thanks for the recommendation!

  17. This is where my mom used to shop when I grew up in Surrey, and where my s-i-l shops now. If you are ever in Yarrow (before Chilliwack off Hwy 1) you should check out Wisbeys Veggies. They also rarely use sprays (you can ask). Their prices are amazing. (I worked there for 2 summers when I was in high school.)