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Pricey produce prohibits purchases ....


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article from The Las Vegas Sun

A government study found that though many people say cost prevents them from eating more produce, consumers can get the recommended three servings of fruits and four servings of vegetables daily for just 64 cents. That would account for 12 percent of daily food spending per person, which averaged $5.50 in 1999.

The study, which is based on information collected by A.C. Nielsen from 7,195 homes in 1999, looked at how consumers spent nearly $223 billion at supermarkets, other retail stores and farmers' markets.

Anyone find this to be true? Is it your perception that produce is far too pricey today? :rolleyes: Or is this merely a covenient excuse not to buy good foodstuffs?

Might these same people buy a bag of chips and soda for what they might otherwise be willing to spend for produce?? Your opinion ...

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Anyone find this to be true? Is it your perception that produce is far too pricey today? :rolleyes: Or is this merely a covenient excuse not to buy good foodstuffs?

i touched on this a bit in my own piece on the same USDA study, though there was a lot more i couldn't squeeze in. (and some question about the USDA figures, which factor in canned/frozen/juice.)

the real issue, as the study notes, is that most shoppers buy based on per-pound or per-item prices, yet we have no easy way to mentally translate that into a per-serving cost. an ear of corn may cost 50 cents, but do we interpret that as 1 or 2 servings? (closer to 2 than 1, though your results may vary.) the perception of what's required for the 8 recommended produce servings a day is far greater than what you actually have to eat.

oversized specimens are also partly to blame. when was the last time you saw a peach that would provide just a half-cup of fruit? plus, as a couple folks noted, the quality of produce in most markets is such that we tend to feel a bit gypped for what we pay. (given that i was buying huge bunches of fresh basil at $1 a bunch at the farmers' market yesterday, and given that a small packet of fresh costs $2 in the supermarket, i sympathize with that feeling.)

for the cost-conscious, there are almost always fruits and veggies on sale -- if you've got a broad palate and time to prepare what's cheapest. but quality can suffer, and many of us have grown so accustomed to year-round sourcing for produce that we all can probably take a bit of blame for costs being what they are. it's not that we *can't* eat cheap produce, it's that the market has shunned it in favor of February apples and iceberg lettuce.

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Some of the prices at the supermarkets are downright obscene! Particularly when considering the wholesale prices....

I shop for produce (that I don't grow myself) at the Mexican supermarkets that are proliferating and moving into areas formerly strictly white bread.....

My boss (on my recommendation) began shopping at one that opened near his home (Calabasas, CA) and loves their produce.

The prices are very good, the quality is excellent and they have a rapid turnover. They also have some items that are not commonly seen at Anglo markets.

On my last visit to the store cilantro 5 bunches for a dollar. Same with Italian parsley. Lovely big heads of lettuce, two for 59 cents. Huge ripe red peppers 99 cents a pound, green ones 69 cents a pound as were pasilla chiles and Anaheims. Limes, big and juicy, 3 pounds for a dollar, fresh ginger root 1.99 a pound, large, plump pieces, cantaloupes, 6 pounds for a dollar......... and so on.

Oh yes, they also had large, lovely mangoes 5 for a dollar.

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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article from The Las Vegas Sun
A government study found that though many people say cost prevents them from eating more produce, consumers can get the recommended three servings of fruits and four servings of vegetables daily for just 64 cents. That would account for 12 percent of daily food spending per person, which averaged $5.50 in 1999.

The study, which is based on information collected by A.C. Nielsen from 7,195 homes in 1999, looked at how consumers spent nearly $223 billion at supermarkets, other retail stores and farmers' markets.

Anyone find this to be true? Is it your perception that produce is far too pricey today? :rolleyes: Or is this merely a covenient excuse not to buy good foodstuffs?

Might these same people buy a bag of chips and soda for what they might otherwise be willing to spend for produce?? Your opinion ...

I find that fresh produce in the US is expensive especially taking into account that much of it is grown within the US (especially CA).

One could argue that the cost of transporting fresh produce in refrigerated trucks could contribute to the high price but back in the UK (where I lived until 2002), most fresh produce is also imported but it is not as expensive (as I recall).

Also, I find the quality of produce to be inferior (to European grown produce) so that makes it even more expensive in my eyes. Especially produce grown in CA- it's lacking in flavor and texture. So, I try to buy produce grown in the SE US instead.

If I'm not mistaken, the bell peppers in my local grocery store fluctuate. e.g. one week they're sold per piece and on other weeks by the pound.

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I was thinking the same thing yesterday as broccoli was $1.49 and had huge trunks. The florets were only .89 a pound last week. One chain has asparagus for $3.49 while another has it for $1.99. And the size of the produce-huge peaches that exceed a normal serving and bolster the weight make it more costly to put a peach in a few lunches. Onions seem to be on steroids too. Unless I am cooking up a storm, the typical onion is too large and its remainder sits in my fridge until it dries out and I throw it away. One chain had 'buy 1 pint of mushrooms get two free'-I really did not need so many mushrooms. Why not just give me the $ off one package! I try to shop the smaller produce shops, ethnic stores and farmer markets but a busy schedule prevents shopping at 6 places for the week's groceries!

What disease did cured ham actually have?

Megan sandwich: White bread, Miracle Whip and Italian submarine dressing. {Megan is 4 y.o.}

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Actually, I keep thinking that produce is so ridiculously inexpensive that soon someone is going to realize that they've made a big pricing mistake--here in Toronto you can buy, pretty much year around, a staggering amount of very good produce for a very few dollars.

In fact, I suspect that the days of dirt cheap produce are numbered--high energy prices will work through the system very soon.

But even if prices doubled, it would probably still seem inexpensive.

Full disclosure: I'm not feeding a large family.

OTOH, I was a little surprised to see bacon advertised as being on special for about double what I remember the regular, everyday price was not too many months ago.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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The little voice inside my head tells me I shouldn't have to pay more for vegetables than meat, so when asparagus is not on sale (and the regular price is $3.99, yikes!), I eat broccoli.

In truth, I eat a lot of broccoli.

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here in Toronto you can buy, pretty much year around, a staggering amount of very good produce for a very few dollars.

i'd speculate, with scant evidence of course, that Canadian retailers are less likely to jack up their share of the retail price. would be interesting to compare the U.S. and Canadian farm price spreads. i'm guessing Canadian farmers, and even wholesalers, are seeing a larger chunk of the retail price. just a guess.

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And the size of the produce-huge peaches that exceed a normal serving and bolster the weight make it more costly to put a peach in a few lunches.

an interesting tidbit from the California peach/nectarine/plum growers last week: this June was a bumper crop, with the sweetest fruit imaginable. but because it came about a month early, the fruit were too small for most retailers, and the wholesale price took a dive. farmers were leaving something like 30 percent of their fruit in the orchard to rot because they knew they couldn't sell it.

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Here in the Northeast produce prices seem to stay high most of the year with short windows of lower prices for particular items. Even the local growers prices seemmmuch higher than two years ago but I think this is due in part to their staying just below supermarket prices. Cauliflower in my area is still running $2 per head for a decent sized head, red, orange and yellow peppers are $2 - $3 per pound and even sweet corn is 3 or 4 ears for $1. Soem of those prices will plummet for a few weeks later in the summer but for a very short window of time. If I was buying and cooking for a family of four I could probably keep the cost at a reasonable per serving price but buying/cooking solo I often have to buy differently in order to avoid waste due to spoilage (e.g. I buy bulk mesclun salad mix at $6 per pound instead of getting individual lettuces by the head).

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i still wind up paying less by shopping around the perimeter of a grocery store than i do shopping the aisles.

you can get a 5lb bag of potatoes for the price of one of those potatoes augratin meals.

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here in Toronto you can buy, pretty much year around, a staggering amount of very good produce for a very few dollars.

i'd speculate, with scant evidence of course, that Canadian retailers are less likely to jack up their share of the retail price. would be interesting to compare the U.S. and Canadian farm price spreads. i'm guessing Canadian farmers, and even wholesalers, are seeing a larger chunk of the retail price. just a guess.

The low prices apply to imported produce as well. It probably reflects the hypercompetitive marketplace in Toronto, which is unique in Canada, I think.

A big German discount supermarket, Lidl, announced last year that it was coming to Toronto to compete in the mid-sized market range.

Lidl has been a huge success wherever they expanded in Europe, but decided after a few months of study to stay out of Toronto.

I will also note that Sam's Club does not seem to be doing well here, which is an indication of something, although their locations seem to suck.

Arthur Johnson, aka "fresco"
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I thought it was just me hyperventilating over produce prices. .79 for one orange? .79 for a lemon?? These are Manhattan prices, Gourmet Garage to be specific. GG used to be somewhat reasonable, but lately they lost their minds. And the Whole Foods down the block...$2.49 for about 6 basil leaves. Insane.

Is it because of gas prices? Or just what the market will bear?

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I thought it was just me hyperventilating over produce prices. .79 for one orange? .79 for a lemon?? These are Manhattan prices, Gourmet Garage to be specific.  GG used to be somewhat reasonable, but lately they lost their minds. And the Whole Foods down the block...$2.49 for about 6 basil leaves. Insane.

Is it because of gas prices? Or just what the market will bear?

I think that in grocery stores, since margins overall are so thin, that they price to the level the market will bear.

My favorite local grocery - Snider's in Silver Spring MD (DC) - lemons are 3 for a buck. I can't recall other prices off of the top of my head, but their produce although not tv commercial pretty is generally good and cheap. But they are also a little family owned place and not a chain.

The thing that I love about it is that lemons are ALWAYS 3 for a buck! Every week and every month.

They will occasionally have real sales on surplus seasonal produce (corn is starting to get cheaper by the day), or something that their wholesalers had overstocked. For example, red bell peppers typically $2-2.50 a pound can occassionally be found at $1 a pound.

Edited by JPW (log)

If someone writes a book about restaurants and nobody reads it, will it produce a 10 page thread?

Joe W

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I thought it was just me hyperventilating over produce prices. .79 for one orange? .79 for a lemon?? These are Manhattan prices, Gourmet Garage to be specific. GG used to be somewhat reasonable, but lately they lost their minds. And the Whole Foods down the block...$2.49 for about 6 basil leaves. Insane.

Is it because of gas prices? Or just what the market will bear?

You are definitely shopping in the wrong places. I pay $2 for a massive basil plant, .20 for an orange and about the same for a lemon depending on season. You need to shop uptown and stay away from Gourmet Garage.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Hi

I'd say at least 60% of my diet is fruits and veggies so I know most of the regular prices. I think one way of cutting down the costs of veggies is to know the average price and watch the sales. I refuse to pay 3.99 for a head of cauliflower when I know another store has it for 1.99(winter prices). We have a store in our part of Canada called no frills and I saved probably hundreds of dollars this winter shopping there over the big name stores.

You can eat healthy on a budget. If grapes are on sale, that's fruit for the week. It may not be fun to eat the same thing a few days in a row, but sometimes life isn't fun but at least we'll be healthy. My 4 year old kept asking for blueberries everytime she saw them during the winter-sorry but I'm not paying 5.99 for a handful of moldy, tastless berries. I waited until the price came down and bought her some-then she really didn't like them.

Sandra

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I thought it was just me hyperventilating over produce prices. .79 for one orange? .79 for a lemon?? These are Manhattan prices, Gourmet Garage to be specific.  GG used to be somewhat reasonable, but lately they lost their minds. And the Whole Foods down the block...$2.49 for about 6 basil leaves. Insane.

Is it because of gas prices? Or just what the market will bear?

You are definitely shopping in the wrong places. I pay $2 for a massive basil plant, .20 for an orange and about the same for a lemon depending on season. You need to shop uptown and stay away from Gourmet Garage.

I went uptown...once.... Only kidding..but you are so right. If I have the time I either hit the Greenmarket, or Chelsea Market, or Chinatown.... But, most nights I don't get home until around 9:00, and I'm a buy now/eat now kinda gal. Just irks me because GG used to be a fair price.....

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The low prices apply to imported produce as well. It probably reflects the hypercompetitive marketplace in Toronto, which is unique in Canada, I think.

that's even more interesting.

if i were inclined, and i may yet be, i should really write a piece about produce prices in Toronto versus New York (or even Phila., Boston, &c., wherever there's similar transit/distribution costs) and consider all the various factors that make up the retail price. begging the question: are U.S. retailers gouging us?

not speaking of the specialty retailers. i *know* they're gouging us. but that's why i split my time between farmers markets and Whole Foods.

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If I have the time I either hit the Greenmarket, or Chelsea Market, or Chinatown.... But, most nights I don't get home until around 9:00, and I'm a buy now/eat now kinda gal. Just irks me because GG used to be a fair price.....

just curious -- how *are* the Greenmarket prices versus regular retail? (i won't even touch GG; any place like that has basically purchased a license to charge at will.)

here in SEA, the farmers markets are incredibly affordable compared to even basic retail -- $1 for a huge bunch of basil, or a bunch of beets, or carrots. i paid $2 a pound for amazing green beans this Saturday. but haven't been to the NYC Greenmarket in nearly 5 years, so no clue how prices are tracking on that coast.

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If I have the time I either hit the Greenmarket, or Chelsea Market, or Chinatown.... But, most nights I don't get home until around 9:00, and I'm a buy now/eat now kinda gal.  Just irks me because GG used to be a fair price.....

just curious -- how *are* the Greenmarket prices versus regular retail? (i won't even touch GG; any place like that has basically purchased a license to charge at will.)

here in SEA, the farmers markets are incredibly affordable compared to even basic retail -- $1 for a huge bunch of basil, or a bunch of beets, or carrots. i paid $2 a pound for amazing green beans this Saturday. but haven't been to the NYC Greenmarket in nearly 5 years, so no clue how prices are tracking on that coast.

I'm sorry...I don't know how to answer you. I'm not sure what you mean by 'regular retail'. In my neighborhood, GG is regular retail.... We don't have a nearby, convienent supermarket chain.

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Here in the "environs" of L.A. (really almost all one big environ) the middle eastern markets have very cheap "specialty" produce which is priced at a premium in regular supermarkets. The Mexican supermarkets and the Asian markets also have produce at super bargain prices.

At the middle eastern market in Lancaster the "sweet" lemons (Meyer) are 1.19 a pound, regular lemons 39 cents a pound. WHEN they can be found, the regular supermarkets sell Meyer lemons for 3.99 a pound. Some difference.

Shallots are very inexpensive and in good supply at the local produce market but they are so easy to grow (even in a windobox) unless you are using many pounds at a time, grow your own.

I grow them in odd spots in the garden, between some of the other plants as well as scattered over the surface of the ginger patch. The ginger corms are much deeper and the shallots have shallow roots so they happily coexist in the same patch.

Green onions or scallions or "bunching" onions (do not form a bulb) grow rapidly in planters and window boxes and as you thin them out to encourage some to grow bigger, you use the thinnings as you would chives.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Looking at a price to quality ratio, ordinary Anglo supermarkets offer pretty shabby value...

As to the assertions that supermarkets make no money, I have a real hard time believing that... between personal knowledge and reliable gossip I've heard of not one but several families that became exceedingly wealthy in the supermarket business. Kinda tough to do if there is always a miniscule margin on everything.

And I also wonder how it is that local Asian and Mexican get such good produce and sell it so cheaply... maybe it is all about turnover... us anglos don't buy much fresh produce, so the selection sucks... so we don't buy the sucky fresh produce... so there's no market for fresh produce... and it becomes a specialty luxury item and is priced accordingly, even though it still sucks.

Christopher D. Holst aka "cdh"

Learn to brew beer with my eGCI course

Chris Holst, Attorney-at-Lunch

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If I have the time I either hit the Greenmarket, or Chelsea Market, or Chinatown.... But, most nights I don't get home until around 9:00, and I'm a buy now/eat now kinda gal.  Just irks me because GG used to be a fair price.....

just curious -- how *are* the Greenmarket prices versus regular retail? (i won't even touch GG; any place like that has basically purchased a license to charge at will.)

here in SEA, the farmers markets are incredibly affordable compared to even basic retail -- $1 for a huge bunch of basil, or a bunch of beets, or carrots. i paid $2 a pound for amazing green beans this Saturday. but haven't been to the NYC Greenmarket in nearly 5 years, so no clue how prices are tracking on that coast.

I'm really bad with remembering prices, but let me try my best. Last friday I paid:

Cherry tomatoes (pints): 1 for $2/2 for $3

Scallions (bunches): 1 for .75/2 for $1

Lettuce (choice of red leaf, green leaf, butter crunch - all very sizable)bunches: $1.25

Herbs (spearmint, lemon thyme, rosemary, etc) - $2 per bunch

Basil plant - $2

Eggplant (asst variety): $1/lb

New apples - $1/lb

Nectarines: $2/lb

Green Beans have increased in price from $1.20/lb to $1.75 over the past two weeks

Zucchini: $1/lb

Corn: 5 for $2

At Union Square, some of the farmers discount their produce at the end of the day. The stuff might be a little wilted, but it's still good for immediate eating.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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