I don't understand farmers' markets in my area.
I grew up in Rochester, NY, where there is a splendid farmers' market
. It's big and open year-round; the produce is varied and cheap; there are specialty goods like honey and maple syrup; finally, trinket vendors, craftsmen, and haberdashers are kept to a minimum. So I'm totally sold on trading supermarkets for farmers' markets.
I went to university in Baltimore and now live in College Park, a Maryland suburb of DC. I keep trying to have the same relationship with the local farmers' markets, but I keep feeling disappointed.
The one I've been to most often has vendors who sell hand-made soap, specialty coffee, sausages, bulgogi, crêpes, donuts, potted herbs, pickles, and jam. One or two vendors each week come with expensive organic meats, and another two-three come with a very narrow selection of fruits and vegetables.
Since I'm trying to use the market for essential groceries, going seems to be a waste of time and money. At one point I was basically stalking the eggs-and-poultry vendor, only to overhear her say that she intentionally brought only 1-2 cartons each week because the shoppers are too cheap to pay the prices her eggs command in Silver Spring.
Other nearby farmers' markets aren't any better: very few vendors, very narrow selection, high prices, mostly prepared foods, specialty foods, and crafts. That's not what my weekly groceries list looks like.
- Is my experience typical?
- Which local markets fit my needs better?
- Is it realistic to expect to be able to replace the basic shopping I do at the supermarket with grocery shopping from the public market, and also stay within the same price range?