Saturday, February 4, 2012

A Better Farmers Market


The picture above, unbelievably enough, is $20 worth of produce that I bought today in about 3 minutes! Not only did I save a ton of money (today at Winco, spaghetti squash was $0.98 lb...that is almost 20 pounds of spaghetti squash alone. So basically, everything else was free!) but my money went to a very good cause!

I love vegetables! That's not a surprise! And, years ago, I used to love going to the Farmer's Market every Saturday and coming home with bags of fresh, unbelievably tasty produce for next to nothing. But now, going to the Farmer's Market is not necessarily pocketbook friendly. We live in a pretty affluent area, and prices reflect that. However, just because I live in an affluent area doesn't necessarily mean I'm all that affluent! So I was unbelievably excited to read in the paper about the Murrieta Temecula Rescue Mission selling produce at Rancho Community Church...a tiny little Farmer's Market that is held every Saturday in the church parking lot from 8 a.m. - noon with donations for the produce going to a wonderful cause!

In short, the produce has been assessed for freshness at the border and when it's determined that it might not possibly make it to, say, Minnesota...it's rejected and re-directed to landfills. Through a wonderful network of people, the food now comes here, to the parking lot of Rancho Community Church. I was a little leery about the quality of the produce, but a visit this morning more than allayed my worries! These vegetables are beautiful! At the peak of freshness and in better condition than at the local grocery stores.

The way is works is simple: you donate $5, $15, or $20 or whatever you're able to. $5 will get you a paper bag to fill, $15 will get you a standard size produce box, $20 will get you a large box. You fill it as high as you can, with whatever you want and that's that! This is what a $20 box looks like...my haul from today:



All the proceeds donated at the new farmer's market support and feed local families and orphanages. Any produce left over at the end of the market is distributed to the needy in the area who come to the church to pick up food. Anything not quite sales worthy is given to local farmers to feed their animals. None of it ends up in a landfill. Lots of people are helped. It's a win-win-win situation!

Of course, the selection is not quite as expansive as at your more traditional farmer's markets. Today's offerings were beautiful red peppers, roma and regular tomatoes, tender little baby yellow squash, plump purple eggplants, mounds of spaghetti squash and piles of hubbard squash. A couple week's ago is was eggplants, green bell peppers, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes. If you don't like the total randomness of the experience, you can visit their website at reliefbasket.org and, if they know what's headed their way, they post it.

So, though I was a bit offput when I first saw the one small little pop up in the parking lot, I was more than happy with what I got for my $20 and will most definitely be making this a weekly stop!

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