What Prevents You From Shopping At The Farmers Market? [poll]

by | Jun 7, 2010
spring vegetables


“I’m amazed how many Californians don’t seem to realize that not everyone lives in an area of bountiful Farmers’ Markets.”

One of the most common complaints I get from readers is that they don’t have access to the same kind produce and farmers markets as I have here in San Francisco. Truth is, few places in the world have farmland like California and this is a legitimate gripe.

Luckily the number of farmers markets in the US has been on a steady increase over the last decade.

But I have a hunch there are other things keeping you from shopping at the farmers market each week and I’d love to know what you think.

Is it time? Money? Politics? Priorities? Or am I way off the mark?

Vote below and I’ll discuss the results in the coming weeks. If you choose “other” please give your reason in the comments so I have something to work with.

[poll id=”7″]

Thanks team!

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44 Responses to “What Prevents You From Shopping At The Farmers Market? [poll]”

  1. Our farmer’s market culture here in DC is growing FAST. There are a few large markets (although still nothing as good as San Fran), but there are also smaller markets that are popping up in neighborhoods.

    I honestly try to stop by a market every week. When I skip a week it’s almost always due to time, schedule, etc. I think it’s very important to support local farmers and try to prioritize it, but when it doesn’t happen the only crappy excuse I can give is that I was too busy…

  2. I would say that for most people it is convenience. Combine that with people generally not being 100% sold on locally grown vegetables and it becomes a tough sell to head to the farmers market. Of course, cost is also a factor, but if the person is sold on the locally grown, hopefully organic food, cost is not the primary concern.

    As for me, I don’t go because I grow much of the vegetables I eat myself.

  3. Jessie says:

    My local farmer’s market has a pretty limited selection. Most of the time that I go, I end up coming home with a pretty un-sexy haul (think a single onion that neither looks nor tastes any better than what I’d get at the grocery store). Given that, I have to find myself pretty motivated to buy local to even get down to the market anymore. I’m going to make a real effort this summer though.

  4. rouxxx says:

    I’ll have to agree with Steve about convenience. I’m one to go to the farmer’s market every Saturday but I’ve made some convenient life choices in terms of living in the city center, two streets away from a Saturday farmers’ market. That means I can quickly make my way there between Friday’s going out and Saturday eve’s dinner. Not sure that would still be the case for someone with three kids and the house in the suburbs and, in truth, even for me a weekend out of town or plans on Saturday morning means a week without fresh veggies.
    That might be different for you guys in the US, but where i live (the Netherlands) farmers’ markets are only open during the working hours (9 to 5 or so) and on Saturday. I’d suspect that makes them very inconvenient for most working people.

  5. Johanna says:

    I live in Florence, Italy and buy most of my produce from a large supermarket; and from a small shop from a cooperative agriculture (?) where a lot of the food, organic or not, is locally grown. The supermarket produce actually is very good and tasty, like the one from the farmers’ market. The farmers’ markets, however, are a bit more expensive.

  6. Trevin says:

    Other: there are some nearby in Baltimore city but the hours are inconvenient. Typically 8am on a Sat/Sun, which is way to early for me.

  7. Alli says:

    It’s not that I don’t WANT to go to Farmers Markets, it’s just that I usually forget to wake up early and then miss all the good stuff…

  8. TD says:

    Our near-by farmer’s market operates during times that make it hard for me to get to the market on time comfortably. I wish farmer’s markets operated for a little bit longer or operated on weekends. Currently the markets near my home pop up only on week days and during times when I am at work.

  9. maebyn says:

    I am fortunate to have 3 farmers markets between my home and work. BUT… I can never go because they are on weekdays during work hours!

  10. Squish says:

    Most of our markets are on saturday morning. I tend to be out till 3 or 4am on fridays, and its really hard for me to wake up and get their before they close.

    There is one on wed afternoon, but they generally don’t have much veggies or fruits, just cheese, bread and other such goods.

  11. Eve says:

    When the temperature reaches 90 I opt not to go since I’m sensitive to heat and sun. Otherwise I make it a point to go.

  12. MgmLneWolf says:

    While I would love to be able to shop at the local Farmers Markets (and there are 2 within 5 miles of my house) I am unable to do so because of transportation problems. I have no vehicle and can not arrange transportation during the early morning hours when the markets are open and actually have what I would want.

  13. Jennifer says:

    I go irregularly. Ours is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays, but the early start time really ruins it for the weekend. Sleeping in is a treat on the weekends and, with no kids, it’s something I’m taking advantage of as long as I can. I actually manage to get to the Tuesday one more often since my company is doing furlough days and waking up early isn’t so bad when it’s technically a work day.

  14. nmgradma says:

    We had no farmers markets where we lived in NM so I never had the opportunity to eat organically. I have found though that the quality and selection in my daughter’s CSA box (in San Diego) is very poor quality and definitely not worth the money she pays for it. (She won’t complain because she says she does it to support the farmers!) However, even she does not want to buy produce separately at the farmers market because of the price. My personal experience has been that I have found better quality organic produce at the grocery store and sometimes better prices.

  15. Martha M says:

    Where I live (Southern CT) there are some year round farmers markets, but they sell things like homemade bread, preserves, etc that I don’t eat/need much of. Fruit and vegetable markets appear from June – October in my area, and some local farms/orchards sell their produce directly from May – December/January, or whenever the apples are finished. It gets very, very hard/impossible to buy local in the winter and spring.

  16. E. Foley says:

    We have done a little tour of all the nearby markets before finally settling on one that has a good mix of the type of things we want to buy. I think the annoying thing is that it’s NOT a one-stop shop. For folks who want to get all their grocery shopping done in one place, the farmers market often won’t cut it.

    For us, we’ve been buying what looks awesome, then coming home, finding recipes, and going food shopping for other random ingredients needed to make the recipes. It’s a *little* more work, but well worth the effort.

  17. MissTdJ says:

    (re my “Other” vote): I don’t regularly shop at farmer’s markets because I already get our weekly produce box from Terra Firma Farm CSA. So maybe that doesn’t count, since TFF is also a weekend market vendor in Davis & Berkeley?

  18. I’m a “mostly meat” guy (as opposed to Pollan’s creed) and so my cooking always focusses on the meat and I rarely know what I might want in terms of veggies and/or salad much beforehand.

    So, I end up wasting a lot of produce unless I go to the store several times per week just to get what I know I’ll use. Potatoes and onions are the exception. Both keep well so they’re easy to have around at all times.

    But the main thing keeping me from going to FMs more often is that most all of the ones here in the south Bay are just more and more of the same veggies and fruits over and over. It’s like a shopping mall and women’s she stores, as I mentioned in my Campbell Farmers Market post yesterday (that’s a bit tongue in cheek for drama).

    I’d go way more if I could get grassfed and pastured meat at more places (Campbell is the only one I know of, and Prather is the sole vendor). And nobody has pastured eggs. Campbell has an egg vendor but they’re just cage free eggs and everyone knows that’s no big deal.

    So, more meat vendors selling grassfed beef, pastured pork, lamb, free range pastured chicken, duck, toss in some elk and other game meats, pastured eggs and you’ve got a regular.

    And I may even pick up some fruits & veggies. 🙂

    • Darya Pino says:

      Wow, you should move to SF! We have the most incredible meat/eggs at the farmers market. Definitely check it out if you ever visit, you’ll be blown away.

      • Yep Darya, I’ve done the Ferry bldg a few times when up for the weekend, which I love, incidentally. That’s how I used to get my tub o lard from Prather (among other things, and the mushroom place is amazing). But now they bring a few tubs down to Campbell on Sunday. I got the last one yesterday.

  19. Susie says:

    I would love to shop at a Farmer’s Market, but the only ones near my house have very little produce and are primarily glorified craft fairs. I hear there are other, better markets in town, but every one I’ve tried has been dominated by things I seldom buy – artisanal honeys, jams, etc. I tried belonging to a CSA, but I ended up with far too much produce for just one person, and often produce with limited usefulness (my freezer was full of roasted chiles, but I can only eat so much kale each week).

    • E. Foley says:

      Susie – I ran into that in some of the markets here in Maryland, too. My boyfriend and I have basically checked out all the markets within a half hour drive and have finally settled on the one that seems to have the best mix of produce and other stuff. There’s still a good amount of jewelry and art and wood carvings and what-not, but at least there are enough good farm stands. 🙂

  20. Here in Cleveland, there are several “Farmers’ Markets” that regularly carry fruit and veg that can’t *possibly* be in season. You check the labels, and it’s the same California (or Mexico, or Peru) stuff you see in the grocery store. You never know until you get there if it’s actually going to be local or not, and I don’t entirely trust some of the sellers.

    • E. Foley says:

      We have a local orchard/farm stand that does this, but at least they’re up front about it. They’re trying to be a one-stop shop for people, so they’ll have non-local things like lemons, limes, avocados, etc.

      On their signs, it’ll say “Butler’s Own” or “Montgomery County” or “USA” or the name of the country.

      Mostly if we go there it’s for the local stuff, but hey, if we need a lemon, we can get that too. 🙂

  21. Nancy says:

    I try to hit the farmers markets here in Vermont, but sadly, in my area, the quality of product is hardly worth the extra change and time it cost me to make multiple stops for food. every town has a market open for a few hours one day each week. my localest of local is on Mondays from 3-6p. I often feel that the small markets (some with only 6 vendors!) should merge, giving us more selection in one place. I find that my local co-op has more to offer in quality and selection but the price can be higher.

  22. Erica says:

    I should have checked the no time box but instead opted for other. I have three young children (5, 3, 6 months). My oldest son has autism so a trip to the farmers market with the family is well in a word stressful. I try to attend when time allows. I live in Missoula Montana where we are fortunate to have two farmers markets on Saturday and one on Thursday nights. Thanks to our location fruit is limited to cherries, huckleberries, and dixon melons (cantelope). The selection of vegies is fabulous and we have some meat to choose from as well. I am never disapointed with our farmers offerings!

  23. Kirsten says:

    I think there’s a farmers market here in Vegas, but it’s only open when I’m at work so I don’t get to visit. Also, there’s really not much in the way of agriculture and farming here, so I doubt any of it is truly local – my guess would be that it’s the same stuff I can get in the grocery stores for a lot more money.

    I just got back from a vacation to my home state of Massachusetts, and I am really missing being able to visit farm stands for oustanding produce. Farm stands are the best – they’re local and inexpensive!

  24. Philip Bundman says:

    Like Nancy, here, close to Boston the farmer’s markets are small affairs without much selection. Half of the booths sell candles, soap, incense or other crap. Instead, I frequent permanent markets in the area that specialize in produce and have far greater variety and quality. Some of the produce is local, and some not. Quality is always great!

    I also just found out about a (somewhat) nearby farm for locally raised animals. They slaughter & smoke on the premises, and cut meat to order when you arrive. Amazing quality for supermarket prices! For me, well worth the hour’s drive once a month.

    btw, Darya.. wondering if you’ll be visiting Beantown to watch the Celts beat the tar out of the Lakers? hahaha, I’ll probably regret saying that in a day!

  25. Liane says:

    Reasons Why I selected other :
    1) The best market in my area is 18 miles from home in a direction I rarely travel .
    2) It is held bright and early Sunday Mornings
    3) I still need to stop at the grocery store to round out meals as of course there are things not available at the farmer’s market.

    In other words I need to plan a day , I can’t just pop in and get what I need . There is a smaller market closer to home that I do try to frequent ,but even then it just feels like, If I didn’t wake up at the crack of dawn ,No point going ..better luck next week .
    I am always happy to be there once I get there !! Maybe I am just lazy … Ha ha …

  26. Ken Leebow says:

    I think I grew a pornographic tomato in my garden: http://bit.ly/9Q9Hvl

  27. Amanda says:

    Hi Darya,

    If I had access to the wonderful Farmer’s market you show photographs of, I would go in a heartbeat. I live in a mid-sized city with several Farmer’s markets; I am only just starting to delve into visiting them on the weekends, but I’ve found thus far that these seem less focused on produce and fresh items, and more slanted toward prepared foods and snacks. I went to what I’ve been told is Denver’s best Farmer’s market two weeks ago and walked away with nothing–because there were practically no veggies! There were a few non-Organic items, but they were extremely picked over and undesireable-looking. I am toying with the idea of joining a CSA instead. You are truly blessed to have access to the Farmer’s markets in San Francisco, as they look divine! I am going there in a few months and I can’t wait to see for myself.

  28. Lynn says:

    I think most people do not know what to eat and that most vegetables are intimidating. It’s easier to buy a frozen package of ANY vegetables, throw them in the microwave to heat and serve then it is to prepare something that looks foreign. It’s such a shame.

  29. Our farmers market hasn’t even started yet (I believe it kicks off this weekend). It is held in a park downtown that is too far away from my house to walk to, on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings, when I am usually at my retail job. When I worked downtown at a different job, it was easy for me to walk to after work on Wednesday – now I’m limited by my work hours and having to drive down there and fight for a parking spot.

    I’ll gladly admit that most of the produce tasted tons better than what I could buy at the grocery store – it tasted like it came out of my mom’s garden – but if I have to go to a grocery store anyway for other stuff, it’s easier for me to make the one trip. In addition to my full-time retail job, my husband and I own a business. My time is limited. The less running around I have to do, the better for my sanity.

    Also, I rarely use cash. For me it’s a pain to have to find an ATM and get cash to buy stuff at the market.

  30. Harry says:

    I’m from Canada and our “in-season” time is a lot shorter, so by necessity I can’t spend as much time out of the year shopping at farmer’s markets. We have some good markets here, but presently all the stalls are simply selling imported produce. There’s probably not much to be gained from getting imported produce on the street versus in the supermarket, but I haven’t thought about that too carefully..


  31. Holly B says:

    I used to LOVE shopping at the various smaller-sized farmer’s markets when I lived in Philadelphia (Rittenhouse Sq., Headhouse Sg.). Now that I live in NYC, the main market I know of is the Union Sq. market, but it often seems like a hastle to get there, it’s super crowded, and honestly, is the produce *that* local (it being in manhattan, and all). What I end up doing most of the time is picking up produce at the many, many produce stands on corners all over the city. It can’t be local, unfortunately 🙁 but it’s inexpensive and convenient.

  32. Chris Keith says:

    Too early in the morning!

  33. Jenn says:

    I’ve experienced farmer’s markets in a few locations now – in grad school, I had one a block away from me on Sat. mornings, filled with beautiful fresh produce, meats and cheeses – and when it wasn’t running, there was a local Co-Op so I could buy the same local food any day of the week. It was awesome.

    Then I moved back with my parents for a few months and scoped out the farmer’s markets, because I wanted them to have a great experience as where I lived before – there was one that was “close” – a 30 min drive away on Sundays at 10 and it was awesome, but for my parents going would mean not only the long drive but also having to skip church, and that just wasn’t an option for them. There was another one also “nearby”, but it was only open on wednesdays at like 3-5pm, which for any person working a full-time day job is near impossible. I def. understand why they don’t shop at any.

    Now I am en Suisse, and the markets are great. Now if only I could hold a conversation in French…

  34. Josie says:

    Other. I do go, just not nearly as often as I’d like. When I don’t go, it’s usually for a couple of different reasons:

    Weekends are the only time I get to sleep in. Often by the time I get up, have some breakfast and am ready to get out and about, the market is almost over and I’m worried about getting the dregs.

    There is one by my office during the week, but it’s hard to take time off work to go.

    Also, I’m single and tend not to cook much during the week (I’m trying to cook more, but often don’t have the energy when I get home late, so I just snack on odds and ends), so when I do buy stuff, sometimes it goes bad, which makes me reluctant to go and buy too much. But then, if I’m not going to buy much, sometimes it doesn’t seem worth the effort to go at all.

    Finally, it’s just another errand that takes up precious weekend freetime. I’ll have to go to the grocery store anyway, so sometimes I just don’t feel like making an extra trip to the market, searching high and low for someplace to park (or worse, paying to park in a nearby garage), then fighting the crowds. Much easier to just get it all in one trip to the grocery store (though I do shop at Whole Foods, so I feel pretty good about the quality of the produce there. Still, it’s better and cheaper at the Farmers Market).

  35. kristine says:

    Regarding the “other” option- mine may be a bit different than others. I live in Reno, and there is a farmers market from June to October on Saturdays. When I am in town, I love to go, but unfortunately, I am not a fan of Reno . . my husband and I leave town for more awesome locales on the weekends as much as possible, which is often 3 weekends of every month. (We are trying to move away.) So if there was a market on a weekday evening, that would be wonderful.

  36. Kate says:

    I voted other, because I often don’t shop at the market because most vendors don’t accept EBT cards. I’m an AmeriCorps volunteer and have taken advantage of the federal benefits I’m eligible for. I love the Farmers’ Market, but it eats up my cash.

  37. Canuckette says:

    I live in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in the heart of the Canadian Prairies. We have a few farmers’ markets here, but our growing season is just so very short. Just to give you an idea, the only local veggies currently available are asparagus and radishes– that is, unless you count the hydroponic lettuces, salad greens, and tomatoes.

    I love so much about Canada, but I do envy those people who have access to farmers’ markets year round!

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