I’ve been a huge fan of farmer’s markets ever since I was a kid. I grew up outside of Buffalo, NY, and we were surrounded by farms. Most of it was cow corn, but many people grew massive gardens throughout the Spring-Fall season. This was a small town in the 1970s. People had little stands out by the road, with a cigar box there to put your money into, in case they couldn’t physically be there. It was an honor system and people weren’t jerks about it. Rarely did some asshole teenage steal the cigar box. The best time of year for me, though, was when corn was in season. There were several variations grown, but my favorite was the yellow & white “bread and butter” corn. It was so sweet and I’d eat it until I got sick. My face would be covered in butter and I ruined a lot of shirts with the melted drippings. To this day, I go crazy over it!
My friend Lori owns a company called The Barter Group. http://www.bartergroup.com/ I became a member several months ago. She then launched Edible Exchange http://edibleexchange.com/ which is the same concept, just food-focused. Here’s how barter works: You become a member. You exchange services with other members in the group. You pay each other with barter dollars. You can use your dollars for any company in the group, it doesn’t have to be with the ones you solely do business with. I have one Barter Group client, and he pays me in barter dollars each month. It goes into my “bank.” I can use those dollars with the Edible Exchange program, too. This has been a lifesaver for me lately, because business slowed down a bit this past summer.
I rarely pay cash for groceries right now. I can get just about anything at the farmer’s market. I go to the Central Farmer’s Market http://centralfarmersmarket.com/ on Central & Northern every Saturday morning. Several of the vendors there are in The Barter Group/Edible Exchange. So, I take my barter dollars and go to town! You can get ice cream, bread, butter, cheese, meat, chicken, vegetables, fruit, and eat at a few of the food trucks.
I did an experiment today. I went without ANY cash. That was partly a mistake, because I went out last night and used my cash and forgot to put more in my wallet. Guess what? I got a TON of food and didn’t pay a penny out of pocket!
Some of the vendors: Udder Delights http://www.superstitionfarmtours.com/Udder.html, JH Grass Fed http://www.jhgrassfed.com/, and Pinnacle Farms http://www.phoenixpinnaclefarms.com/ and Ridge View Farms http://ridgeviewfarmsonline.com/ I’ve been to the market several times now, and not only do I feel good about buying locally-produced foods, I know I’m healthier for doing it. I’m supporting the community. Oh, and by now, everyone knows Dexter and me by name. That feels good.