by Laura Edwards-Orr
This is the 4th post in our series, Six Ways to Shop Your Values without Breaking the Bank.
These tips to help you get the most for your money and make the most impact with your purchases. And remember: When you make one change for the better, you’ve made a solid move in the right direction!
Shop Your Values Tip #4: Buy Direct. Buy Late.
Farmers markets are magical – strolling through a crowded lot, munching on some fresh baked goods, chatting with your neighbors and meeting the farmer is an idyllic way for most of us to spend a weekend morning. But, often you arrive home with an unplanned for assortment of products that still need to be augmented by a trip to the grocery store AND your wallet might feel a little light on the cash. When you are buying direct, there are deals to be had and some products are sold at a premium. One summer, I compared the prices at an urban farmers market with those at a conventional grocery store. It surprised me to see that there were deals to be had at both venues. Corn, squash, peppers and eggplant for example were significantly less expensive at the farmers market. Cauliflower, tomatoes, salad mix, and cut flowers pulled ahead at supermarket prices.
Here’s one of my favorite strategies for making the most out of a trip to the farmers market: go late. At the end of the day, when farmers are packing up to go home, it’s much easier for them to cut you a deal on what’s left than it is to pack it up and take it home. Target products that you know you’ll use in quantity or that will store well over the week – and buy them in bulk. Similarly, talk with your favorite farmers about buying seconds – they will always have produce with imperfections that cannot be sold at top dollar but still have all the nutrition and flavor that you are looking for. Either way, it’s a win/win because the farmer will be glad to go home with an empty truck and you will undoubtedly save money.
Laura Edwards-Orr started her career as a local foods advocate at Farm Aid – America’s longest running concert for a cause. She now works for Plainville, MA based Red Tomato where she connects farmers across the Northeast with access to wholesale markets, like grocery stores.
Laura also works as a freelance writer, researcher, and data nerd for organizations and businesses working to create family-farm based food systems and value chains. She lives in Providence, RI with her husband, toddler twins, horse, dog, and two cats.