November 4, 2011

One Day of Food from the Farmer's Market

The picture above is what I was able to purchase with one day worth of SNAP money for a family of four with the assistance of Wholesome Wave Georgia, doubling my SNAP benefits at participating farmer's markets.  While this benefit is not available at every farmer's market in Georgia, they have partnerships with 13 locations, including the one in my town.

The total cost of this food was $37.  Thanks to Wholesome Wave, the cost to a family on food stamps would be $18.50... approximately one-day worth of SNAP money for my family.

When I cooked it, it provided approximately 12 family meals worth of greens and veggies.  Wholesome Wave benefits made the difference between what felt expensive and what was a deal.

The surprise for me was that I was not familiar with probably a third of the veggies and greens at the market.  Many Asian varieties were offered that I had never seen or heard of.  It begs the question:

Even if it is cheap, even if it is organic, if people don't know what it is or what to do with it, will they buy it?  A humble farmer's market became an intimidating experience very quickly.

As well, more than half the market was not farmers but start-up food entrepreneurs selling baked goods, pies, salsas, cookies, doggie treats and more.  Is it helpful to the health effort when pre-made goods are sold at the farmer's market?  Not sure we can answer that one yet.

The complexities of our food system are revealing themselves...



  1. Dave, I am posting your experience on my FB page, and I'm amazed about this. I can't wait to see what you discover as you head into winter.

  2. Dave, I'd love to see photos of some of the veggies cooked. I need ideas! Julie

  3. Dave, lots of thoughts on this one. First, the intimidating farmers market experience: I was very intimidated at first. I guess what got me over the hurdle was simply asking the farmer what something was and what I could do with it. It helps that I'm curious and will try anything. I discovered sunchokes, kohlrabi, various greens,and some interesting cuts of meat this way.

    I think markets should do education days with cooking demos, talks from farmers, etc. to get people thinking about new and unusual vegetables. Ours does this occasionally and it is always a big hit.

    Second: The prepared food. Does the board have any requirements that a certain percent of the ingredients must be locally produced? This can be one way to at least feel like you're supporting local commerce, even if cinnamon rolls and biscuits and gravy aren't healthy. But there are some items, like jams, tomato sauce, salsa, pickles and honey that can be 100% locally produced.

  4. Great thoughts Meryl. I would love to see an "intro to vegetables" event at the market. That would be a huge help. As far as prepared foods, I believe all the products are locally produced but there are no regulations or expectations that the ingredients are locally sourced. Does that make sense? I may make salsa's locally, but the tomatoes come from Mexico or Texas, etc. Most vendors who source ingredients locally will advertise that.