#900 Make A Pit Stop For The Roadside Farm Stand

2 May

fresh produce farm stand truck

Because buying produce from the back of a pick up truck is awesome.

 

The easiest way to score a deal on organic produce? Stop by a roadside farm stand to check out the seasonal fruits and vegetables. The key secret is that farm stands are often “organic” without the official label. Getting certified organic is a lengthy process, so a lot of casual farmers, neighborhood gardeners or even regular, small-scale farmers don’t go through the process to get certified. Lots of times there is no way to know that they are not using pesticides and chemical fertilizers unless you stop in. Some advertise “chem free” or “no spray” on their signs, but many will only tell you once you stop in that they don’t use chemicals or sprays.

As spring starts to yield the first crops of spinach, lettuce and rhubarb, roadside farm stands will start to pop up at the end of driveways and or in seasonal vegetable stands. If you live in a rural location, the farm stand is a common site, if you live in an urban environment, you don’t have to go too far into the country to start seeing them.

Here are some reasons why I love roadside farm stands and why they are a bargain.

  • Freshness!
    roadside farm stand

    Many farm stands offer unofficially organic produce at low prices.

    Most of the time you’ll hear things like “I dug them this morning” or “I’ll get you some more from the garden.” The quality of vitamins and minerals in fruits and vegetables are the best the fresher they are, and the vegetables are crunchier, tastier, firmer or whatever ideal quality you are looking for. Don’t waste the huge bonus of super fresh fruits or vegetables by waiting to prepare the produce. Prepare and eat it the same day or the next day if possible.

  • Cheap! Like I said, a lot of these stands are unofficially organic. That’s good enough for me. Most of the time the produce is 50 cents or more less than the conventional produce price at the grocery store. Plus you’re getting that freshness factor, which is priceless. If you regularly grocery shop with a budget, you should be able to identify whether the price of produce is cheaper than in the store. Even if it’s the same price and you’re not getting any savings, you’ll win with taste. In all likelihood, it is cheaper than the store. Especially organic produce.
  • Variety! The variety of produce that you can find in roadside stands is much greater than at the grocery store. You can discover new kinds of squash, potatoes, herbs and tomatoes that will make you wonder why anyone decided that mass producing only one kind of tomato was a good idea. People like to put labels like “heirloom” or “heritage” on fruits and vegetables that fell out of favor with the advent of agribusiness, but these small stands keep up the variety of produce with little pretension and lots of flavor.
  • It’s not the farmer’s market. I love farmer’s markets too, but usually only to look. Prices at farmer’s markets tend to be high, and it’s much harder to score a deal on organic or even conventional produce. At a farmer’s market, the vendors will be much more likely throw around words like “heirloom” and discuss the broodiness of a rare Chilean hen, which just makes me feel out of place if I’m not wearing vegan sandals and don’t know what my exact carbon footprint is. I like what they’re doing, but I prefer the more regular Joe feel of farm stands.
  • Trust. If you wonder about where the world has gone to today, stop by a farm stand that has a glass jar or wooden box as a cash drop and a thank you sign. I really hope these people don’t get their money stolen too often. I like to think everyone is honest and sees how awesome it is that you can leave money in a glass jar. On that note, most stands are cash only, so be prepared with exact change or bring a lot of dollar bills.

Farm stands get started in the spring and will run through the fall to around the end of October. Here’s a visual illustration of a roadside vegetable stand:

farm stand truck illustration

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