I came across this interesting post on Wise Bread about farmers’ markets. The author wondered how frugal markets are and decided to compare the prices at her farmers’ market and her grocery store. While she found that her purchases were slightly more expensive this week, I agree with many of the comments on the post. On the whole, I save money by buying produce locally, love the quality, and love that I’m doing something to help the planet.
Over the weekend, I found a great new use for farmers’ markets: travel souvenirs! My friend and I spent a busy weekend shopping in San Francisco, but I didn’t buy anything until I got to the market. Since I’m trying to pay off my credit cards, I passed on the the $200 kate spade shoes and the $90 designer t-shirt. Usually, I love buying clothes in other cities. It’s always fun to think of the trip when I wear the item, and it’s even more fun to tell people where I bought the item when I’m complimented. This time, I’m more excited about paying off my debt. By the end of the trip, I realized that I was about to go home empty-handed! Then, on Saturday, I had time to head over to the Ferry Street Farmers’ Market with my friend.
At first, I just bought a cute market bag for $15 to take to my local market this summer. Then, we started wandering up and down the stalls of fresh fruit, cheese, meat, and vegetables. At home in Ohio, we only have asparagus and spinach in our markets. Since I’m eating locally as much as possible, this means that I haven’t had much fresh fruit in months. I was in heaven sampling the cherries and apriplums, but figured I’d have to make do with just a sample when my friend convinced me that I could manage to get them home. So, I bought fruit, dried mushrooms, artichokes, and cheeses, all for $40. It was a perfect gift to bring back to my family, and I was excited to make some new dishes with the produce.
The mushrooms, cheese, and artichokes survived the trip just fine. The fruit had a little harder time but was still delicious. Yesterday morning, we had fresh cherries for breakfast, and then I made a gallette with the apriplums and last of the cherries. The best part was dinner. I picked fresh lettuce from our garden and tossed it with the goat cheese and a homemade vinagrette. Then I steamed the artichokes and served them with some leftover pasta the future husband had made (three cheers for his excellent cooking while I was gone!). When we sat down to dinner, I felt like I was still on vacation! The artichokes were amazing — the best I’ve ever eaten. I was happy to share all that California goodness with the future husband, and we happily chatted about all the lovely food we’ll eat there on our honeymoon.
For $40, less than the cost of t-shirts for all of us, I got to share my favorite part of vacation with my family. Plus, I still have mushrooms and cheese left. I’m making a mushroom soup tonight and homemade bread to go with the cheese. I love markets because the really reflect the place you are visiting. The Ferry Street Market is right on the bay and just felt San Francisco-y. In fact, I may start planning vacations so that I can end on market day to bring back more edible souveniers!