A different kind of Market

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 by Charles Mayfield, CFP®


Summer presents a fantastic opportunity to treat your taste buds to tons of fresh produce.  All the craze, in recent years, seems to be focused on the ‘organic’ movement when it comes to your veggies/fruits.  My brother is a farmer in East TN.  I’ll try to stay off my organic vs. non-organic soap box for a moment (Michael’s produce is amazing and not organic).  Regardless of your feelings about the use of pesticides, the time of year approaches that there will be a TON of fresh foods in supermarkets all over Atlanta for you to try out.

How does/can this relate to my finances?  Well, my culinary experience has led me to explore all over Atlanta in search of fresh produce.  There are tons of opportunities to save money on better food just by looking around.  An interesting article by The Atlantic pits several meals made from produce purchased at Wal-Mart against the same cuisine prepared from produce purchased at Whole Foods.  I’ll save you a price shopping excursion and tell you that ‘typically’ produce from Whole Foods is much more expensive than the same items purchased at Wal-Mart.  However, if you click through and take a look at the above article, you will find that there were many areas where the quality, taste and overall texture of produce purchased at Wal-Mart held its own against Whole Foods.


I’m so very excited about the next few months.  There are already baby tomatoes all over my garden and with all this rain…tomato/basil salads aren’t too far off.  With fresh veggies abounding, don’t be afraid to hop in your car one weekend and go shopping.  Stay away from the traditional ‘supermarkets’ and look for other options.  Yes, a trip to Wal-Mart might be in order.  However, Atlanta offers an abundance of fresh markets, farmer’s markets & side-street vendors offering up their freshest fare.  If you enjoy fresh food, take this opportunity to seek out some new spots.  Here are a few places to start:

  • Dekalb Farmers Market: it doesn’t matter where you live in Metro ATL…this place is worth the trip.  Try to avoid Sunday’s b/w 11 & 2, unless you are up for huge crowds.
    • Incredible Meats, Veggies/Fruit, Spices from around the world
  • Cobb International Farmers Market: Great choice for Cobb County
    2350 Spring Rd SE, Smyrna, GA 30080
    • Great Veggies/Fruit & Fish
  •  Buford Highway Farmers Market: Gwinnett and North Fulton folks try here
  • Georgia State Farmers Market: One of the largest in the world.  I consider this a great tourist attraction with the added benefit of tons of produce
    16 Forrest Pkwy, Forest Park, GA 30297

Any internet search is bound to land you in the thick of plenty of other options.  Not to mention the countless ‘seasonal’ stands that will be popping up in communities all over the city.  Now for a few shopping tips:

  • Bring Cash: if you plan on going to outdoor stands or down to the Georgia State Farmers Market…cash is king.  You’ll be amazed what $20-$40 will buy you.
  • Be Ready to cook:  there is a chance that you might get carried away when you see how far your dollar stretches.  Have recipes in mind when you depart on your adventure so that you don’t end up wasting all that fresh goodness.
  • Ask an expert: chances are really good that if you go to some of the larger markets you will see produce you won’t see in other stores.  If something looks inviting, wait until someone else bags up a few and ask them how they prepare it. Or if the farmer is there, ask him or her for some tips. This is good to do with any veggie.  Folks are usually happy to share their recipes.
  • Prices tell the story: if it seems really inexpensive, that means it’s in season…not that it isn’t good.  Prepare for sticker shock on some of the produce you seek.  However, the really inexpensive stuff is most likely in great abundance.
  • Ready your taste buds: foods that are in season are just better.  They don’t have to be shipped from far-away places…when they’re local, they retain more of their freshness.

Happy shopping.  Your mouth, tummy and wallet will certainly thank you for venturing out into this brave new world.

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