This morning I made my first trip to Rochester’s world famous Public Market in over a year. As part of my family’s attempt to get our finances in better shape, we’re looking at our food spending and cutting back wherever possible. I knew the Public Market was open most days during the week and I could stop by before work, but then I’d have veggies baking in the hot car all day. Y. said, “why not just put a cooler with some ice packs in the car and keep them in there?” Within a day I’d found a free cooler sitting by the side of the road and I was set to go.
So here’s what $13.50 got me this morning:
- five heads of garlic
- three large cucumbers
- seven large carrots
- a pint of limes
- a pint of lemons
- a pint of blueberries
- five plums
- a pound of grapes
- four tomatoes
I believe this is about half the price I’d pay at the local supermarket. Plus, these things I bought today usually taste like fruits and vegetables as opposed to tap-water taste and tennis-ball texture of stuff shipped here from Chile or Bakersfield. This gap in cost highlights the huge chunk of food prices being taken by the supply chain, and the quality gap makes another argument for localization. I’d rather be supporting the farmers and getting good food rather than supporting the BigCos and getting garbage.
Even on a Tuesday morning when the place is really quiet, the Public Market offers a lot of variety- tons of peppers, locally grown beans (including favas), potatoes, apples, annuals and perennial plants, not to mention the garage-sale fare. An added benefit is getting to chat with the vendors, or at least say good morning. Usually the most charitable thing I feel like saying at the supermarket is “can you get that f*$@ing restocking cart out of my way!” The Public Market and various farmers’ markets are just so much more friendly and pleasant.
The local paper ran a story on all the markets popping up all over town, and some of the more established players were complaining that there wasn’t the demand to support all these, yet I believe the demand will catch up, especially as they start to become more present and convenient.