Farmers Market Challenge: Winter Edition

Let’s talk market deals. I know I have discussed market savings in terms of longevity and quality, but I have yet to mention a word on straight up monetary savings. Farmers’ markets get a bad rap when it comes to pricing. Some not familiar with New Westminster’s bi-weekly haunt have said it’s too expensive; they can get twice as much at the supermarket than at the farmer’s market. I propose we challenge that too-oft-heard stereotype.

Take for instance, the last winter market:

As we all know, I have a $40 budget that I try to balance to a tee. In doing so, I am not shy about letting vendors know what my budget is, what my plans for the week are, and what I can guiltlessly spend on their product.

I first walked up to Kevin at Bose Farms. To be honest, Kevin has thrown me for a loop every market since the summer. His prices are dirt cheap compared to grocery stores, and to a few of the other venders in the circuit. By all accounts, he does not fit the aforementioned stereotype. On top of that, his listed prices are often not the prices you’re going to pay when you get up to the cash box. All prices, whether carrots, Brussels sprouts, squash, or potatoes, are listed per pound. As I contemplated the spaghetti squash, Kevin sidled up next to me, and whispered the price he’d charge was actually nearly half of the $2 a pound listed. That, alone, had me grabbing for the football-sized veggie. When he put it on the scale, he grimaced. At $2 a pound it would have cost $8, at $1.25 a pound, it would have cost $5. For me, that was a total score, but for Kevin, he could not consciously charge me $5 for something that cost way less to produce. Off came yet another dollar.

I also picked up a bunch of carrots ($1.40), a bag of Brussels sprouts ($2.50), and a bulky bag of kale ($1.50). I’m not the best at math, but my calculator says that should have totalled $5.40. Kevin’s price: $4!

He excused it by saying he’s not organic: that his prices are still more than what it costs to produce; and finally, that he’s kind of goofy like that.

I’m hard pressed to name a supermarket that has a consumer-based conscious like that.

Spaghetti Squash Pad Thai

Bose Farms wasn’t the only one handing out deals. Just like you and I, these farmers aren’t fans of loose change. It’s easy to lose, it weighs down the cash box, they want nothing to do with it. So most that charge per pound, including Ossome Acres and Sweet Earth Organics, will round DOWN to the nearest quarter. You may balk thinking it’s just nickels and dimes, but hold on a sec, nickels and dimes add up to quarters and dollars. Over time, it is a significant savings.

Again, when was the last time a grocery store did that for you? In fact, since the removal of the penny, most times, they round up!

Shrimp and Chard quinoa, a go-to market-fresh favourite

Given the chillier weather, I figured soup was very much in order. I hopped over to the Tasty & Nourishing soup table. So. Many. Flavours. There was roasted red pepper and tomato soup, cauliflower soup, vegetable soup, cream of kale and leek soup, broccoli and cream of parsnip soup, green pea and quinoa dumpling soup, green bean and mushroom soup, bean and chorizo soup, split pea soup, and chicken paprikash soup. They all sounded so good; I had a hard time choosing. I narrowed it down to the split pea and the green pea and dumpling soup. I love split pea, but was intrigued by the dumplings. Instead of suggesting I buy both, Adrianna, the company’s founder, suggested I buy the dumpling soup and take a sample of the split pea. When she said sample, I thought I’d get a small yogurt cup size, nope I got a full bowl and a halfs worth!!!

I can assure you I have never got a sample size this significant from a grocery store.

Nothing quite like a cup of hot soup on a snowy-cold day

And finally, we’ve got our bite-sized samples. This is not a monetary savings, no, and many grocery stores have cookie samples, yes, but how many of us know exactly what is going into those cookies, and how many little fingers have been all over those cookies? I don’t, and frankly, I haven’t touched one since I was about eight years old. But the market samples, usually handed out on toothpicks or passed over via tongs, it’s pretty safe to say are hazard free. The makers and bakers are there telling you exactly what’s in them, what their origins are, how they were made, and when they were last baked. I got a taste of pure organic apple sauce, a bite of a turmeric muffin, an offering of beef jerky, a savoury pakora, a slice of scone, and a full-sized, melt-in-your-mouth, sweet, sweet choquette from Baguette and Co.

“In Canada, you eat popcorn with movies; in France, we eat chouquettes,” laughed Bernard of Baguette and Co.

Singing fa-la-la-la-la with German apple strudel

MARKET LOOT:

Bose and Farms

Carrots

Brussels sprouts

Kale

Spaghetti squash

                                        Total: $8

Outwest Local Beef

Beets

                                        Total: $3.50

Ossome Acres

Chard x 2 ($5)

100g pea shoots ($4)

                                        Total: $9

Healthier Choice

German streudel ($3.50)

Schrippen bun ($0.60)

                                        Total: $4.10

Baguette & Co.

Baguette

                                        Total: $3

Tasty & Nourishing

Green pea and quinoa dumpling soup (600mL)

                                        Total: $6.75

Jam Shack Preservery

Raspberry lemonade jam (125mL)

                                          Total: $5

Before purchasing the preservative-free Schrippen bun I was 75 cents short of my $40 budget. I was determined to break even, and searched high and low for something 75 cents on the dot. But unfortunately, it was either 60 cents for the bun, or a $1.25 for a pretzel – nothing in between. I opted for the bun, which left me 15 cents under budget. That was not acceptable. Instead of stuffing it into my pocket, it went into the guitar case of the local entertainer Jen Hiltz.

Now, you would think after all those samples, I would have been way too full for a proper lunch back home. And I was decently full, but the thing is, the bun was preservative-free, and even though the woman behind the Healthier Choice counter told me it would last fine in the fridge, I just could not take my chances. And so, another great market adventure, made all the better with the surprise savings, was closed with a proper-good market fresh sandwich.

Needed talented mouth-widening skills for this one.

Yum. Yum.

Secret Santa Community Edition # 10

Here’s the final instalment in our River Market Secret Santa series. (Numbers 1234, 56, 78, and 9. ) 

For many, the focus from everyday life turns towards the spirit of giving during the holiday season. This year River Market invited ten citizens from New Westminster to shop for gifts on River Market’s dollar. Many would say these citizens are actively engaged in making this wonderful city better each day. These individuals were tasked to hand pick each item which they thought would make a great gift and their only parameter was that they had $50 to spend. Once they were done their shopping, they would wrap the gift and deliver it to an organization of their choice in New West.

Ruby Campbell lives here and works for the city. “My first job was in New Westminster even though I was living in Vancouver at the time. I used to work at the mini donut place here when it was Fraser River Market,” recollected Ruby.

Ruby shopped for the Fraserside Emergency Shelter. “As a parent the worst thing I can imagine is being in crisis and having to keep positive for my kids. I wanted to put together a little gift for each of the parents staying at the shelter right now. There are 3.”

  1. Soaps – Donald’s Market
  2. Scratch and Wins – Paddlewheeler Liquor Store
  3. Lip protection – Jolene’s Natural Soapworks & Donald’s Market
  4. Solid Perfumes – Donald’s Market
  5. Bees wax candles – Donald’s Market
  6. Hand Lotion – Jolene’s Natural Soapworks
  7. Pepperoni – Donald’s Market
  8. Spicy nuts and Corn nuts – Donald’s Market

Ruby said the one gift she’d wish for was more time in the day. “As a busy parent there never seem to be enough hours.” (Editor’s Note: I can so relate!)

Thank you so much to River Market for this initiative. Merry Christmas!

Secret Santa Community Edition # 8

Here’s number eight in our River Market Secret Santa series. (Numbers 1234, 5, 6, and 7. ) 

For many, the focus from everyday life turns towards the spirit of giving during the holiday season. This year River Market invited citizens from New Westminster to shop for gifts on River Market’s dollar. Many would say these citizens are actively engaged in making this wonderful city better each day. These individuals were tasked to hand pick each item which they thought would make a great gift and their only parameter was that they had $50 to spend. Once they were done their shopping, they would wrap the gift and deliver it to an organization of their choice in New West.

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In this edition # 8 of the Secret Santa series, River Market asked Neal Michael to get his shop on. Neal lives here and has organized many events that bring community together such as Popluck, Pecha Kucha, Stop and Stare, etc. Neal chose to shop for the Spirit of the Children Society. “I feel like as an organization it’s overlooked and under recognized. I like that a lot of the programs are ones that strengthen family connections. As a teacher I am passionate about youth and they do a lot for the youth of Indigenous communities.”

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They specifically asked for a gift card from Donald’s Market to go towards their Traditional Kitchen for Aboriginal Families and Youth and they always need fresh fruit and veggies and do some of their shopping at Donald’, so Neal picked up a selection of gift cards.

neal-michaelAnd if Neal is on your list of people to buy a Secret Santa gift for, check out Canteen and Supply. “We are foodies who love to cook and they have so many good things,” he says.

Secret Santa Community Edition: # 7

Here’s number seven in our River Market Secret Santa series. (Numbers 1234, 5, and 6. ) 

For many, the focus from everyday life turns towards the spirit of giving during the holiday season. This year River Market invited ten citizens from New Westminster to shop for gifts on River Market’s dollar. Many would say these citizens are actively engaged in making this wonderful city better each day. These individuals were tasked to hand pick each item which they thought would make a great gift and their only parameter was that they had $50 to spend. Once they were done their shopping, they would wrap the gift and deliver it to an organization of their choice in New West.

We profiled the Downtown BIA’s own Christmas promo the other day, but today, this installment of Secret Santa Community Edition features Angie Whitfield and Trestan Yuen. Angie’s been a resident since 2000 and works for the Downtown BIA and Trestan started working for the Downtown BIA as a Summer Ambassador and has stayed on as the Digital Marketing Co-ordinator.

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The Downtown BIA office has adopted a family this year through the Caring Neighbour Program. “We were given a family of refugees from Syria with 12 and 15 year girls. We’ll be adding today’s items to the larger Downtown BIA gift,” explains Angie. “This is a good opportunity to switch our viewpoint from getting to giving. As a mom with children I can’t imagine having how hard it would be to have a Christmas when you wouldn’t be able to give your family a celebration.”

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  1. Seasonal Chocolate Bars – Donald’s Market
  2. Mints – Donald’s Market
  3. Hard Candies – Donald’s Market
  4. Scratch and Wins – Paddlewheeler Liquor Store
  5. Cold FX Immune System boosters – Donald’s Market
  6. Lip Balm & Sugar Scrub – Jolene’s Natural Soapworks
  7. Tre Galli Gift Cards

When asked what’s they’d wish for, Angie said “For people to see the value of giving – especially young kids. More pay it forward type of experiences,” and Trestan asked for River Market food vouchers. “The food here is so good!” (we agree!)

Secret Santa: Community Edition # 6

Here’s number six in our River Market Secret Santa series. (Numbers 1234, and 5. ) 

For many, the focus from everyday life turns towards the spirit of giving during the holiday season. This year River Market invited ten citizens from New Westminster to shop for gifts on River Market’s dollar. Many would say these citizens are actively engaged in making this wonderful city better each day. These individuals were tasked to hand pick each item which they thought would make a great gift and their only parameter was that they had $50 to spend. Once they were done their shopping, they would wrap the gift and deliver it to an organization of their choice in New West.

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This instalment’s shopper is Erin Jeffery, aka Erin the Fantastic. She’s a resident, a volunteer and works for the Uptown Business Association and Tenth to the Fraser. Erin opted to shop for the Canadian Mental Health Association New Westminster Branch. “I used to work for them,” she said. “They do an inordinate amount of work. The staff really believe in their mission which includes education and housing support. Their thrift store is staffed entirely by volunteers with lived experience in mental health issues. Working there gives them an opportunity to get back into the workforce in a safe environment.”

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  1. Toffees – Canteen & Supply
  2. Popcorn – Donald’s Market
  3. Truffles – Donald’s Market
  4. Spiced Winter Cordial – Donald’s Market (makes 4 gallons of punch)
  5. Dark Chocolate Cranberry Chocolate Bar – Donald’s Market
  6. 3D Adventure Sticker Pad – Shnoo and the Pachooch (because they always have things there for the parents who need to have their kids drop at the office)
  7. Shortbread Cookies – Pamola Bakery

Erin’s wish if someone was shopping for her is probably one shared by many, many people. “Time – I would use it to balance out all the time I give to other people and take some for myself.”

Secret Santa: Community Edition # 5

Here’s number five in our River Market Secret Santa series. (Numbers 123, and 4. ) 

For many, the focus from everyday life turns towards the spirit of giving during the holiday season. This year River Market invited ten citizens from New Westminster to shop for gifts on River Market’s dollar. Many would say these citizens are actively engaged in making this wonderful city better each day. These individuals were tasked to hand pick each item which they thought would make a great gift and their only parameter was that they had $50 to spend. Once they were done their shopping, they would wrap the gift and deliver it to an organization of their choice in New West.

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In this edition, well known New Wester Tej Kainth, takes the reins. Tej is the Executive Director of Tourism New West and is on the board of the Douglas College Foundation. Tej is a proud resident, and was born and raised here.

She chose to shop for for the nurses and families who are caring for loved ones in end of life care at Royal Columbian Hospital. This department at RCH has special meaning for Tej. “Earlier this year my grandmother and the matriarch of my family ended up needing end of life care at RCH. My entire family was gathering daily and taking over entire waiting rooms as we tried to be with my grandmother as much as possible. The staff at RCH was incredibly supportive. I wanted to give a gift to another family, that may not have the kind of support network we had, that is going through this kind of hard time. I want show them love and kindness. I focused on things to gift them an energy boost while in the hospital and also wanted to give them a small break at River Market to remind them that life does carry on.”

What did she buy? Tej opted to top up her gift, but focused on treats for energy and mental breaks.

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  1. Hazelnut wafer cookies – Donald’s Market
  2. Raw Energy Trail Mix – Donald’s Market
  3. Coconut water – Donald’s Market
  4. Energy scented soy candle – Jolene’s Natural Soap Works
  5. Tre Galli Gift Card
  6. Bunches and Blooms Gift Card
  7. Longtail Gift Card

When asked what she’d ask for from Santa, Tej said “I would love an all-expenses paid vacation. After a difficult year it would be wonderful to immerse myself somewhere different and to take the time I need for some self-reflection.”

Merry Christmas, Tej!