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Farmer’s Markets

I’ve only been to a Farmer’s Markets a couple of times, more out of curiosity than for any desire for fresh fruits and vegetables. The topic of stopping by one came up in conversation earlier this week, so this morning Dad came over and the five of us went out in search of Farmer’s Markets.

I assume they have these everywhere, but in case they don’t (or you’re not familiar with them), a Farmer’s Market is a place where local vendors sell locally grown and/or made goods. By cutting out the middle-men and selling directly to consumers, consumers get locally-grown products that are inexpensive and fresh, and farmers can (at least theoretically — more on this in a bit) keep prices low.

Our first stop was the Old Route 66 Vegetable Farm, located at 1817 Lakeshore Drive (NW 36th, between Mustang Rd. and Sara Rd.). From the road you can easily see the large covered area, next to a residential home. Anyone questioning the authenticity of the vegetables for sale need only to look past the shaded area to see the large garden behind it. Dad was looking for fresh tomatoes and came up empty handed; I, on the other hand, got both a large jar of fresh salsa (that’s where the tomatoes went, methinks) and an apricot, which I ate a few minutes later while driving away. Morgan got an ear of corn.

Our second stop was at the OSU-OKC Farmers’ Market, located at on the OSU-OKC campus at 400 N. Portland Ave. Sponsored by the college’s horticulture department, OSU-OKC’s market contains not only lots of fruits and vegetables, but a huge variety of locally grown and made foods. There were cookies, pies, jars of salsa and hot sauce, jam, lots of Oklahoma honey, and a wide variety of meat, including beef, chicken, lamb, and even buffalo! One stand was selling brisket and ham sandwiches for a buck each. By the time we got to the OSU-OKC Farmers’ Market the place was pretty packed and some of the vendors were already sold out of their goods by the time we got there.

Last stop on our Farmer’s Market tour was the one in Mustang, OK, right across the street from the Fire Department. Unfortunately we arrived about 5 minutes before they were closing up shop, so almost everything was sold out. We’ll try again next week.

As far as freshness goes, there’s no denying that Farmer’s Markets are the way to go. At all three stops, the goods you were purchasing were grown just a few feet from where you purchased them. Many vendors had “pesticide-free” signs displayed in their areas. On top of buying fresh food, you’re also supporting the local economy — also a plus.

The only downside was, I was expecting prices to be cheaper than they were. I don’t eat or buy tomatoes, but one of the markets had tomatoes for roughly $3/pound, while another had a sign up for $5/pound. According to Susan, the going price at Walmart is closer to a buck a pound. It’s amazing that Walmart can afford to buy produce, ship it across the country, and still afford to undercut people that much. My jelly jar full of salsa this morning cost me $10; a 15oz jar of Tostitos Salsa is $2.50.

For lunch today, we grilled some chicken on the grill and ate it off a bed of fresh spinach lettuce, covered in cheese and fresh Oklahoma salsa. Delicious!

I like the idea of supporting local businesses, and as long as the Farmer’s Markets have foods we can incorporate into our regular meals, I’d like to continue shopping at them.

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2 comments to Farmer’s Markets

  • Growing up in a relatively rural area, we had a massive garden each year until we kids were out of school. Some elements of gardening rock; fresh carrots, onions, garlic, peppers are easy to grow and pick. Other gardening things just suck; worms, rabbits, snapping peas, shucking corn. We were never without dietary variety, I reckon. There were a few lean years when that garden and fresh catfish made up six to twelve meals a week, easily. It was essential. Nowadays, city living has made that scale of vegetable garden all but impossible. I can grow one or two things, but the amount of grunt work in a big garden never grew on me. This year I planted three mounds of squash :/ . Now dandelions on the other hand…my whole back yard is salad now that I’ve discovered I can eat rhe leaves. I digress! Farmer’s markets and co-ops rock because they encourage small growers. Eventually the little guy may compete with Crap-Mart.

  • Wal-Mart gets to sell them for $1/pound because of two reasons:

    1. They buy out the entire stock of entire sets of farms, and that sort of guaranteed sale means a lower price.

    2. It is known that when they negotiate price, they say, very simply, that if Wal-Mart ever discovers an item is being sold anywhere else to another store cheaper, Wal-mart will cut off any purchases from any product related to whoever is selling it cheaper. So there’s impetus for razor-thin margins, which keep the entities in a starved, dependent-on-wal-mart state.

    That’s why. Mystery solved.