“Oh, I don’t shop at the Farmers Market – it’s too expensive.”
There are some really big, complex issues that exist in our current food system. Issues of food sovereignty and safety, of animal welfare, of supply and the ability of farmers to make a living wage… on and on.
And of course cost. For the sake of this little post, I’m going to leave aside the matter of meat (rest assured – we’ll get to that later) but when talking about fresh, seasonal produce, I’m confident that the best value is always to be found outside of the giant supermarkets. Sure, they might have apples on special for a few dollars a kilo which on the face of it looks like a bargain. But when you begin to unpack some of these big issues, you can start to question what you mean by “value.” Is it paying a few dollars per kilo for apples which were picked a number of months ago on the other side of the country, ripened artificially and trucked thousands of kilometers to your local supermarket? And I wonder how much per tonne the farmers was paid for his or her apples? Is there any information on the specials board about the chemicals which may have been sprayed on the fruit? How do they taste?
I’ve always said that one of the greatest charms and strongest assets of a farmers market is the ability to talk to the person who has grown and made your food. You can head down to the Barossa Farmers Market and buy an apple or a pear from Margaret and Jim Ellis, or Jan at Trevallie Orchards or Tim from the Wild Apple. Ask them what (if any) chemicals they use on their property. Ask them how far that fruit has traveled to be here this morning (quick hint – it’s around 15km for the Barossa producers). You know how much they’re getting paid per kilo because it’s what’s written on the sign in front of the fruit – no middlemen, no “negotiations” between a farmer and a multi billion dollar corporation. Find out when they were picked. And you can taste them, taste the difference.
Paying a sustainable price for good quality produce creates a future for agriculture in our community. It means our farmers can plan, invest in infrastructure, training and staff and feel confident about leaving their property to their kids.
As an aside, let me also acknowledge that everyone’s under pressure. We’re all doing the best we can, caring for our families and making the best decisions we can with what’s in front of us. The last thing I want is to sound sanctimonious (is there *anything* worse than a snooty farmers market manager?!)
So, with ALL of this in mind, I decided to do a quick price comparison of pears – currently in season and fresh as daisies. I happened to take a quick snap of Trevallie Orchards new season corealla pears on Saturday so in the interests of comparing apples with apples (!) I looked up Corella Pears on the Coles online shopping site.
So that’s $5.50 per kilo.
So at the end of the day, despite me banging on about how it’s worth paying a little bit more for fresh, ethical, delicious produce, it actually turns out that it’s cheaper too. Happy days. See you all at the Farmers Market soon. And Jan – maybe you’d better pick a few more pears this week!
- Posted by barossafarmersmarket
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