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Do you haggle at the farmers market?


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delhigirl said--

That said, I don't recall ever running a vendor/farmer into the ground for a freebie.

I think what i posted earlier sounded as though I might think that everyone from a country with a haggling tradition was into extreme haggling--sorry if it seemed that I meant that --I have certainly been pressured by Americans just as severely!!!

And amazingly, by Americans who clearly have plenty of dough--as my father in law always said--that's how they hold onto it!!

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delhigirl said--

That said, I don't recall ever running a vendor/farmer into the ground for a freebie.

I think what i posted earlier sounded as though I might think that everyone from a country with a haggling tradition was into extreme haggling--sorry if it seemed that I meant that --I have certainly been pressured by Americans just as severely!!!

And amazingly, by Americans who clearly have plenty of dough--as my father in law always said--that's how they hold onto it!!

Yes, sad to say but this illustrates my previous point -- most of the people who will beat a farmer up to save 25 to 50 cents on something, will then carry it to their luxury car and enjoy a chuckle all the way home. Conversely, we are very middle class (and I'm down-sized to boot) and it would never cross my mind to take advantage of someone who works sunup to sundownn. Go figure.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I am so bad at haggling - I'd never consider trying at a Farmer's market. I make one pass (without buying), then pass back with dollars in hand.

I love our (Portland's) market but did the Vancouver, WA market last Saturday, and was blown away!

Flowers like I used to buy in the open air markets in Germany, veggies, fruits, nuts, prepared items... OMG!

Even if it costlier than grocery store produce, I'll pay. I'll pay and I'll pay. There is something about fresh produce, grown locally, from "friends you get to chat up" that makes it so worthwhile!

=> FM Geek! eJulia :raz:

"Anybody can make you enjoy the first bite of a dish, but only a real chef can make you enjoy the last.”

Francois Minot

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I don't haggle at Farmer's Markets. If I think something is fairly priced for what it is and I want it I will buy it. If it is priced more than what I believe it is worth to me, I won't buy it. I have no problem paying a farmer more than what I might pay in a supermarket, but then what I am buying is not generally the same thing.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Haggling for goods with intrinsic value - like food is somewhat different to doing it for that persian rug or painting. The only time I might do it is if there is some produce in an obviously worse state than the rest and I know I can use it for making sauce etc - I might ask if I can have it at a different price, could be doing us both a favour as they might not sell it at all otherwise. I'd perfectly understand if they said no though - it could be a bad precedent for them if there are other people watching.

I love animals.

They are delicious.

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When we were in pasars in Malaysia, we bargained. Sometimes, the fishmonger would decrease the price on the shrimps, sometimes not. Then we decided whether to get them or not. What often happened was that if we were completely uninterested in something, the vendor, who was trying to get rid of it, would actually follow us, calling out increasingly lower prices. I believe it is still standard to bargain on the prices of cloth and clothing for sale in pasars, but if those prices are already low, the vendors may not go down. I remember bargaining on the price of flipflops, but I don't remember if I got the price down.

I found on my last visit, in 2003, that fruit vendors really seemed to have pretty set prices at pasars. I was surprised by that, given my previous experience of bargaining EVERYWHERE except for restaurants and a small number of department stores (which were just coming in) in the 70s -- EVERYONE bargained with the fishmonger who drove his bicycle through the rural township where I lived, carrying the daily catch of ikan selayang and sometimes ikan kembung (both types of mackeral, I think) -- but I didn't really have trouble accepting the new ways because the produce was fantastic (what I wouldn't give now for fresh bananas and rambutan and jambu air like they had for sale!) and the prices were fairly low for an American. No-one seemed to hold it against me when I tried to bargain, though. I did not try to bargain on the prices of cooked food (whether premade or to order). Prices were marked, and quite fair, in places like the Pasar Malam (Night Bazaar) in Kota Bharu. I don't think that kind of bargaining is normally done in Malaysia, but I of course stand to be corrected.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Here's what I don't understand. You'll negotiate a better price for a car (because it's expected the car is priced over what's it worth) but not vegetables?

Since when are ALL farmers salt-of the -earth characters who never overprice their produce...or keep their finger on the scale etc etc? Sure, some farmers who bring their products to market are honest and kind--but to assume all are? a bit disconnected and bougeoise perhaps.

If you don't like to haggle...fine, it's not for everybody. It seems a bit highmindeed to suggest that purveyers who participate in green markets are too "green" to protect themselves from customer scrutiny.

It seems just as much a shame to overpay for imperfect produce at the farmers market as it does the supermarket, yet somehow people fell better about it. Perhaps we like to leave the farmers market one of the last remaining reclics of a time that was...

does this come in pork?

My name's Emma Feigenbaum.

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If I ever found produce at my local farmers' market that's as variously underripe, old, limp and/or tasteless as it is at my local supermarket, then I would haggle if there were a markup over supermarket prices.

I can't haggle with the cashier at the supermarket. Why would I expect to do a deal with the farmer who is selling a superior product at a reasonable price?

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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Here's what I don't understand. You'll negotiate a better price for a car (because it's expected the  car is priced over what's it worth) but not vegetables?

...It seems a bit highmindeed to suggest that purveyers who participate in green markets are too "green" to protect themselves from customer scrutiny....

It seems just as much a shame to overpay for imperfect produce at the farmers market as it does the supermarket, yet somehow people fell better about it. Perhaps we like to leave the farmers market one of the last remaining reclics of a time that was...

So are you saying it is OK to haggle at the farmer's market, but not at the supermarket? Or do you haggle there too? I'd bet not, so why do it at the farmer's market, where the vendors don't have all the resources of a large supermarket? As a small business owner, I know that it is often a struggle to stay afloat, because you really can't take advantage of the economies of scale. I don't haggle with the farmer's market vendors because, at least at our farmer's market, they are all very small businesses and I appreciate their struggle. I don't do it out of any nostalgia or because I feel vendors are above scrutiny - if I don't like the looks of their produce I just don't buy it. Plus, in my experience the quality is usually higher and the price is about the same.

I have tried haggling at the supermarket, but with no success. I recently tried to get a deal on a bag of lemons where a couple had gone moldy, but instead of reducing the price, the produce manager whisked away the old ones and went to the back to get some from a fresh shipment. I'd guess the company worries about lawsuits from selling bad produce.

Regarding your car buying analogy, haggling IS expected there (although the trend is to no haggle pricing); however, I don't think that haggling is expected in most American farmer's markets. At least that has been my experience, perhaps it is different regionally. And I am sure it is different in other countries.

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Here's what I don't understand. You'll negotiate a better price for a car (because it's expected the  car is priced over what's it worth) but not vegetables?

Since when are ALL farmers salt-of the -earth characters who never overprice their produce...or keep their finger on the scale etc etc? Sure, some farmers who bring their products to market are honest and kind--but to assume all are? a bit disconnected and bougeoise perhaps.

If you don't like to haggle...fine, it's not for everybody. It seems a bit highmindeed to suggest that purveyers who participate in green markets are too "green" to protect themselves from customer scrutiny.

It seems just as much a shame to overpay for imperfect produce at the farmers market as it does the supermarket, yet somehow people fell better about it. Perhaps we like to leave the farmers market one of the last remaining reclics of a time that was...

Your market experiences and mine are worlds apart, I'm happy to say! Perhaps your use of the term "purveyers" [sic] is significant, versus the growers/farmers/producers I deal with. It implies that they are just people hawking produce the way a car dealer sells cars so maybe that's why it seems ok to haggle. The people I buy from (for the most part - a few have friends help on market day) planted, cultivated, fed, tended, babied, picked, packed and rose long before dawn to bring their crops to the city so I could eat well. And highminded, bourgeoise or not, I would not dream of trying to pay them less than they ask for the fruits of their considerable labor.

Another point to consider is the hidden cost of the "cheaper" grocery store products. They are often subsidized by the government (yes, even the mass producing conglomerates receive subsidies that our taxes fund); they employ growing practices that often have affects that must be remediated (again, we foot the bill to clean up); they are hauled hundreds or thousands of miles (road wear and tear, fossil fuels, actuarial implications for insurance costs). And, speaking of taxes, most farmers do not charge sales tax yet must pay it, so it's rolled into the asking price in most cases.

It's the same way I feel about restaurant prices (independent ones, anyway): the chef knows what he spent for the food, the labor, the overhead to serve it and charges what he/she must to stay in business. If people think it's a good value, they patronize it. If not, they don't. But to say it's over-priced, without knowing or considering what went into the final product, is rather unfair, IMHO.

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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Can't the vendors (whether farmers or not) at markets simply choose not to lower prices for someone who tries to bargain with them? OK, that's a rhetorical question, and one that was already answered in the affirmative in this thread. So to those who object to the decision of other customers to try to bargain, is the idea that you believe it's simply rude and disrespectful for them to try? Because I don't buy the argument that someone who bargains is trying to take advantage of the seller. This is a business transaction, and it takes two to decide whether and how to negotiate. If someone is selling produce and is such a pushover that s/he will lower the price when s/he would do better by maintaining it, s/he probably won't remain in business long. Farming and retail sales of food are businesses and the laws of economics do apply to them, as we all know.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I'm certainly not making the argument that the haggler is trying to take advantage of the seller (though it seems pretty clear to me that every haggle I've... um... haggled has been a wrestling match for control of advantage). I'm making the argument that, as I develop relationships each year, year in and year out, with the handful of farmers who bust their butts to provide produce in a precarious New England agricultural community, I like to select carefully and pay the prices they've requested -- or choose not to buy because things are more than I'd care to pay. It's just a matter of privileging relationships over product in this situation.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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With all due regard for the trials and tribulations of the small farmer found at the marketplace, I hardly think it's disrespectful or demeaning to haggle a bit if one thinks it's worthwhile. They are, after all, real businesspeople, not fragile porceline saints, and regardless of the dawn-to-dusk dedication to their art blah blah blah, they're walking down a path they chose.

I have bills to pay, as well, and if I can save some money on my food bill to devote to, say, my childrens' tuition (or my wine bill), why not negotiate? Besides, who's to say that the farmer wouldn't rather sell me 15 pounds of tomatoes (I expect that they have little incentive to negotiate my usual minor purchases, but I will occasionally ask for a discount if I'm buying a larger quantity) at $2.00/lb than not sell me any tomatoes at $3.00/lb?

Besides, we all know that country boys are better at city kids at this type of horse-trading, anyway. They can handle themselves.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Well, I'm quite sure that the folks I've come to know are very far from "porceline saints"! They aren't "country boys," either, though some might like that name a lot better than saint! And while I don't know the economics of small farming outside of New England very well, I do know that around here it's not a stereotype to refer to the financial challenges farmers face.

Let's face it: it's possible for there to be no disrespect intended or received when buyers pay the agreed-upon price, and just as it's possible that one can haggle in respectful ways. S'all I'm sayin'.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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We are farmers and may or may not be salt of the earth. We don't haggle. We try to set fair prices and our regular customers never ever ask for discounts. The few that show up at the end of the day asking for discounts? My husband and I call that "head lice hour" and try to clean the tables up as quickly as possible so we don't have to shoo the head lice along.

I know that some of those folks are from other countries where haggling accepted, but if I show respect for their customs (not just haggling, I don't haggle when I'm abroad, maybe I'm too protestant too!) when I visit their countries why can't they do the same at our farmers market? We'd rather feed our goats with the leftovers than accept the lower prices folks might offer. It's the culture at our farmers market. The hagglers can haggle elsewhere in the market if they like. I find it demeaning.

cg

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It's too bad that for people selling perishable goods that it can not sometimes be a win-win situation to sell older or less perfect produce at a lower price.

A market/store near me always has a table of marked down fruits and vegetables and it is wonderful to see the produce being sold rather than thrown away.

It would certainly seem to be a wonderful opportunity to both sell goods rather than let them rot and to also make healthy produce available at a price affordable to people of lesser means. I think that some people looking for lower priced produce are simply people with less money not yuppies trying to stiff a farmer.

I don't try to bargain at farmer's markets for many of the reasons already given.

Edited by ludja (log)

"Under the dusty almond trees, ... stalls were set up which sold banana liquor, rolls, blood puddings, chopped fried meat, meat pies, sausage, yucca breads, crullers, buns, corn breads, puff pastes, longanizas, tripes, coconut nougats, rum toddies, along with all sorts of trifles, gewgaws, trinkets, and knickknacks, and cockfights and lottery tickets."

-- Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1962 "Big Mama's Funeral"

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Oh, how grateful I am that the "head lice" moniker doesn't apply to me! :laugh::laugh:

I would never even think about haggling at our farmers' markets. Like most people, I do the tour of the market, looking at quality and price. There is sometimes a difference in price on some produce but, generally, that also reflects a difference in quality. I have no qualms about paying a few more cents (let's face it, that's all it comes down to) for a superior product.

Our farmers' markets here in Sacramento have their own website and the URL for it is prominently displayed throughout the market. They have one page called "Shopping Tips", which includes the following:

Bargaining for small amounts is not well received. Bargaining for big boxes or great amounts is usually acceptable. Remember that these are the growers of the produce you are bargaining for. Do not insult them. They worked very hard to sell so cheap.

I also like this tip:

Have patience with the growers. They are not polished sales people, they are just farmers. They were up late picking and irrigating and up early to load and drive the truck several hours to market.

If you smile at and appreciate them, you will find them smiling back and appreciating you in return. That is what certified farmers' markets are really about. Smiles and mutual appreciation. Families growing food for families. Californians supporting California.

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Besides, who's to say that the farmer wouldn't rather sell me 15 pounds of tomatoes (I expect that they have little incentive to negotiate my usual minor purchases, but I will occasionally ask for a discount if I'm buying a larger quantity) at $2.00/lb than not sell me any tomatoes at $3.00/lb?

To me, haggling is ritualized, stubborn bickering. This isn't haggling, especially when a regular is asking and s/he's buying more than the tomatoes. It's sort of like investing in a case of French wine and not a single bottle. Besides, at one local market, New Morning & Next Step Produce usually post a discount price for shoppers purchasing 5 pounds of tomatoes or more. Most stands have more than one similar bargain posted. Even the quart of berries is a deal when compared to the price of a pint.

"Viciousness in the kitchen.

The potatoes hiss." --Sylvia Plath

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I hadn't planned to go into the Wednesday market but now I may have to just to share the "porcelain saints" concept :laugh: If you're made of porcelain (or anything softer than tempered steel), farming is probably a poor career choice.

But seriously, I think of them more as an endangered species I guess; not all good, not all evil but - good or bad - I think they're critical to the overall eco system (to say nothing of my more selfish desire to be able to eat fresh, flavorful food).

I guess Chard Girl's "head lice" characterization of the late-market bargain hunters is more akin to my experience than people of modest means trying to pinch pennies. Unless they intentionally dress up and borrow late-model European cars in some misguided attempt to appear prosperous. Fortunately many of the area farmers have begun donating their unsold items to food pantries and soup kitchens (if they don't have lucky goats at home, that is :wink: ).

Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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I think very little unsold produce goes wasted. it either goes to feed the farmer's family, their livestock or to charity. rarely does it wind up in the garbage - at least with the farmers I know. The farm culture is not a culture of waste.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I think very little unsold produce goes wasted. it either goes to feed the farmer's family, their livestock or to charity. rarely does it wind up in the garbage - at least with the farmers I know. The farm culture is not a culture of waste.

A farmer I know tells me that there are buyers on the way back to Pennsylvania (where he and many of the farmers in our local markets grow) who will take bulk unsold produce off their hands.

This gives farmers a good incentive to keep prices (relatively speaking) high -- even at the end of the day, with much unsold produce -- because they can sell as much as possible at the higher price and still unload the leftovers for whatever price they can negotiate (ie, haggle) out of the wholesalers.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I am not trying to hijack this thread, but as I read it, I'm thinking of the very true examples of the people haggling over five cents a pound for beets, and chuckling as they drive away in their BMW. These people would never dream of telling the golf club that they'll give them $175K for a membership, instead of the going rate of $200K, and that they'll take a 75% equity instead of 25%.

Grocery stores have more room to negotiate; I wonder if hagglers have tried it there?

To me, people who argue about a farmer's prices don't respect how hard the job is, what they are up against, and that makes me very sad. It's the same in a lot of businesses where everyone is an expert. :rolleyes:

Again: Quantity discounts are different. Reduced price for really bad stuff is different. I personally don't want to wait until the end of the day to buy something in case I get a deal.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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Our farmers' markets here in Sacramento have their own website and the URL for it is prominently displayed throughout the market. They have one page called "Shopping Tips", which includes the following....
Have patience with the growers. They are not polished sales people, they are just farmers.

That line just jumped out & smacked me in the face. Who writes this stuff?

But since the impact is more sociological than it is food-related, I'll say no more.

Thank God for tea! What would the world do without tea? How did it exist? I am glad I was not born before tea!

- Sydney Smith, English clergyman & essayist, 1771-1845

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