Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Market Analysis

I haven't picked up my first CSA share yet - Brookfield farm starts deliveries next week. So for the 3rd week in a row that some market in the area was open I got to go to the farmers' market and buy as many vegetables as I thought we would eat, without worrying about duplicating what was waiting to come my way in the CSA share.

For me, what I buy even at a farmers' market where everything look tempting is still less than I'm ever likely to get in a CSA box. That's one of the things I appreciate about having a weekly box I'm committed to in advance - if it comes into the house, I will find a way to cook it and eat it. If I have to decide what I want, even if my choices are gorgeous and fresh and locally grown, I will bring home a smaller bundle.

A recent conversation got me thinking about food costs - how much do I spend at the farmers' market compared to how much those items might have cost elsewhere, how much do I take home, and how much do I get in a weeks' CSA box compared to what that costs. (Nevermind that even when I'm getting a box, I *still* go to the farmers' markets to supplement with fruit, dairy, bread, meat, and crops that my CSA doesn't grow or that I'm not going to drive 2 hours away to pick...)

I'm hoping to do a weekly report, once my CSA starts up, of the farmers' market prices that week on all of the items in my box. (Bear with me if this doesn't work out - the main challenge is that our neighborhood farmers' market runs the day *before* my CSA pickup for the week.) In the meanwhile, I'll just tally up the cost of my week's outing to Davis Square:

Blue Heron Farm, Lincoln:
1 bunch spinach, $2
1 bunch lettuce, $3

Hanson's Farm:
1 quart strawberries, $7

Enterprise Farm, Whately:
1 lb broccoli, $3.50
(in June! Brookfield's is usually ripe in August or September, I'm boggling.)

And that's it for the produce. Under $10 worth of vegetables plus the expensive fruit. (Maybe the price will come down later in the season? I don't like this trend of berries costing a dollar or two more every year.)

Then, of course, I also had to get :
a small package of smoked haddock, $5
a small package of RI-made feta from Naragansett Creamery, $7
a loaf of locally baked potato-pepper bread from Breadsong, $4.50
and a sage plant to stick on the back porch, $4

I won't claim that my CSA will save me all of those slightly impulsive add-on purchases, since I still go to the farmer's market even when it's running.

Next week, stay tuned for the first installment of actually analyzing what comes in the CSA vs. the cost of those items at the market.

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