AUSTIN, Texas — I don’t dislike farmers markets.
In fact, I think they’re great fun, especially when there’s entertainment like music or face painting.
But what I’d really like is a good deal on fresh, local produce.
I went to the Cedar Park Farm to Market on a recent weekend because a local honey company advertised a $1 rainy day coupon through its e-mail newsletter.
They were trying to encourage traffic on what was sure to be a slow day. I live in Austin, and people stay home when water starts falling from the sky.
So I went and thought I’d take a look at the produce available. There was some, which was great considering the last time I went there were few booths with anything available.
Most of the booths were meat, cheese, soap, butter and other handmade goods. It was more of an artisan fair than a farmers market.
I was tempted to buy some kale until I saw the price tag.
A bunch of organic kale was $4.
That’s more than double what the grocery store down the street charges for organic kale.
Later in the week, I stopped at H.E. Butt’s Central Market. For those who aren’t familiar, Central Market is the “fancy” HEB.
Imagine my surprise when I saw the exact same bunches of kale, from the exact same local grower — Austin-based Johnson’s Backyard Garden — for $2 a bunch.
Yes, it was the same local, organic kale, and it was half the price.
Why would I pay double for kale that’s been sitting out on a table all morning?
I can see the locavore argument that the grower might have a higher margin selling through the farmers market.
But an everyday consumer might be surprised — and disappointed — at a mark-up like that.
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