Market Plans, April 18 2009

We’ll be at market again this Saturday with another small selection of early spring items. New this week will be the first harvest of radishes, 5-6 varieties of young, tender heirlooms that are wonderfully sweet and tasty. Like a lot of produce, we find that radishes taste even better when they’re harvested young, before they’ve had a chance to mature and go woody. Don’t be fooled by the small size. We’ll probably also bring some young heads of baby lettuce, several varieties of color and texture. Still debating whether to sell these as miniature heads or just mix everything as a salad mix. Goose eggs, chives, garlic chives, and green onions will appear again.

In related comments, we had to be in Columbia today, so swung by Hy-Vee to do check on comparitive prices for produce. We have no real idea what produce costs these days, having not bought vegetables in any meaningful sense in years. We were stunned to see ratty, old-looking herbs (like chives and mint) in plastic containers being sold for almost $3/4oz; not even organic! Good grief, I’ve been given strange looks for charging $1.50 for our large bundles of 12-hour-old chives, and $1 for small bundles of fresh mint. Same for lettuce; mixed bagged organic lettuce was going for the equivalent of $16/lb, whereas I was getting gasps for daring to charge $8/lb for greens last year. The effects of the California water crisis must be taking hold…

4 thoughts on “Market Plans, April 18 2009

  1. Buying fresh herbs from the grocery store always feels like a ripoff. I finally got my own basil and cilantro growing.Your chives, by the way, were great on our burgers the other day. Thanks!Will you be coming to the farmer’s market at MU Wednesday?

  2. I won’t be at the MU market Wednesday, and I doubt many others will be either. MU was given feedback from the market about what kind of setup and location would be viable for farmers, and chose to disregard almost all that feedback. They chose a location where farmers cannot leave their vehicles (we would have to unload and then park somewhere else), with difficult access to power ( necessary for meat vendors), and at a time we thoroughly did not want. They also wanted little part of actually organizing the market, seeming to think that farmers would jump through any hoop just for the chance to sell on campus. Sorry, no. I don’t know who will show up, but I wouldn’t be surprised if few do given that MU did not heed any of the requests made by the market for accomodating the needs of farmers.My opinion of MU is low enough that I need a pretty damned good reason to work with them, and this is not it. Glad you enjoyed the chives.

  3. You know, it is kind of odd that you keep saying that you don’t care about other prices (that’s what you’ve been saying), and then rant about hy-vees prices…

  4. Anonymous,It’s not so much that I don’t care about others’ prices, I think it’s perfectly valid to be aware of your competition’s prices. No business ought to operate in a vaccuum. And while I believe strongly in charging a price that makes economic sense for me, I still have to at least keep the overall context in mind. For example, we don’t even try to grow sweet corn for sale because we feel the going market price is so low as to make it completely impossible for us to charge what we would want to. So we just don’t grow it. We’re working toward having a full database of information that will allow us to really tease out just how many hours, dollars, and so on it takes to produce each crop so we can start setting prices based on that (and make those data available to customers). However, we’re not there yet, and so still have to consider the overall market price when setting our own. So we did feel the need to check equivalent prices for context. This raises an interesting question. If Hy-Vee’s prices are really high, and we feel our product is better (it’s far fresher and has a longer shelf life), should we automatically raise our prices above Hy-Vee to make the point about quality? Or should we stick with the “market” price, which I don’t think is set by actual considerations, and more by memories of what food cost years ago? Finally, I wasn’t ranting about Hy-Vee in the sense of accusing them of overcharging or doing anything wrong. The tone of that paragraph was written in surprise at two things: (1) that the effects of Federal policy changes in California seemed to be taking hold already, and (2) that anyone would pay that much for a relatively low-quality product. The fact that it’s on the shelves at all implies that someone is buying it, though to me the quality I saw did not at all match the price I saw. It was a question about consumer choices, not a criticism of Hy-Vee, whose prices are set on their wholesale costs and their consumer’s behavior.Does that make sense? If you still think I’m being inconsistent, please feel free to say so and let’s keep discussing it.