Facts:

General:

When I walked up to the market, my first thought was, “This is it?”  The market is very small: one tent.  There are roughly 2 small aisles worth of produce, with an endcap of shelving.

Pros:

There are a few things that I liked about this market.  The main one being that they are open multiple days, and are open both Saturday and Sunday.  Most markets are on weekdays and I work full-time.  And the few that are open on the weekend are not convenient are too far away to make the drive worth it.

The other thing that this market had going for it was that what organic produce they did have was very well priced.

Cons:

Maybe I had very high expectations for this market, but I left quite disappointed.  First, the Size.  This market is very, VERY small compared to others I have visited. They look to only have the one vendor, which obviously will cut down on selection.

Which brings me to my next point, the Selection.  Most of these varieties and products were not from local farms (and by local, I mean 150 mile radius). This is one of the main reasons I like Farmers Markets: supporting local agriculture and knowing that it didn’t have to travel far to make it to my table. What I saw at this market were varieties as you would find in your local supermarket, including brand names like Driscoll and Dole. There were also very few organic varieties. Those that were available were the brand names (I purchased organic & conventional, because I had planned to make this my main produce shopping this week and conventional is better than none at all).  There are several local farms that would be able to provide organic produce to them.  This honestly appeared to be the produce section of a grocery store.  I kept looking to see if maybe there was a store in the mall that I had missed somewhere. One that had this tent as an outdoor section, like a greenhouse. I can usually count on seeing and trying new varieties that I haven’t seen before, or being able to ask the farmer about growing practices, best ways to prepare a new item, etc.  Also, their “special items” shelving included processed foods with high fructose corn syrup and refined flours.  Not what I’ve seen at other spots.

Lastly, the Prices.  Overall the prices were fairly comparable to what you would see at your local Dominick’s or Jewel.  Usually at markets I will see things marked a little bit higher, but their selection is different. For what organic produce they had, the prices were very competitive.  You can see what I spent here.  If the mainstream stores had their organic produce marked at these prices, 1) more people would be buying organic and 2) I wouldn’t have to write this blog!

Last Thoughts:

While I did like the price of their organics, the selection overall was so poor that I am not planning on making a special weekly trip there. But if I am already at the mall, I will definitely stop by.

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This post was created using information from WebMd and AllYou.
If you’ve been through the produce section at your local store, or wandered the aisles at Whole Foods, you know that buying organic products can be ex-pen-sive!  These items can cost 50-100% more than their conventional counterparts. And most people, myself included, can’t afford to buy All Organic, All the Time.  So, how do you choose when and where to spend your organic budget?

Buy these Organic when possible:

These items tend to retain the most pesticide residue, so buy organic whenever possible for these (especially if you are pregnant, or feeding these to children):

  • Peaches
  • Apples
  • Bell Peppers
  • Celery
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Pears
  • Nectarines
  • Grapes
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Potatoes
  • Carrots
  • Milk & Dairy products (if you can’t afford organic, at least go with items marked rBGH-free. Which means the cow wasn’t given any growth hormones to produce more milk)
  • Beef (if you can’t afford organic, at least go with items marked rBGH-free or say “no antibiotics” or “hormone-free”. Which means the cow wasn’t given any growth hormones)
  • Peanut Butter
  • Baby Food
  • Blueberries
  • Kale

Where you can “slide”, but be sure to wash these items thoroughly before eating:

  • Anything that you discard the peel: bananas, mangos, pineapple, avocado, onions, corn
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Peas
  • Asparagus
  • Kiwifruit
  • Eggplant
  • Cantaloupe
  • Watermelon
  • Grapefruit
  • Sweet Potato
  • Honeydew Melon

Check out this handy guide for your wallet!

Wallet guides for buying Seafood

If your budget is tight, Skip buying these “organic”:

  • Packaged and canned items, except for baby food items

Money-Saving Tips for Buying Organic:

  • Grow it Yourself
  • Shop the local Farmers’ Market
  • Sign up for a CSA
  • Buy Frozen organic produce
  • Buy the Generic organic brand, if possible (see shopping guides)

Definition of Terms

  • 100% Organic: This means the food has no synthetic ingredients and can use the organic seal.
  • Organic: This means the food has a minimum of 95% organic ingredients. It can also use the organic seal.
  • Made with Organic Ingredients: This means the food must contain at least 70% organic ingredients. These foods cannot use the seal.
  • USDA Organic: “Don’t confuse “free-range,” “hormone free,” or “natural” with organic. Look for the organic seal. That means the food is grown, harvested, and processed according to USDA standards that include restrictions on amounts and residues of pesticides, hormones, and antibiotics. Natural pesticides are allowed. Organic foods cannot be treated with any sewage sludge, bioengineering, or ionizing radiation.” ~WebMD

As always, stock up on your organic and natural product coupons!

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It is the season for farmer’s market around here, so this edition of Whole Wednesday is going to focus on where they are available, when they operate, and what you might find. To find farmer’s markets in your area, check out Local Harvest.

The trick to saving when buying produce is to buy it when it is in season.  Most school children don’t realize that vegetables aren’t made in stores.  By buying produce when it is best harvested, you get the best produce, at the best prices.  For example: strawberries are coming into season now, so they are on sale EVERYWHERE.  Squashes and pumpkins will go on sale in September/October.  If you buy things out of season, you do pay a premium.

At farmers’ markets you can find almost anything.  Of course, there is locally-grown produce, but you may also see dairy products, including eggs and cheese, homemade wines, homemade pastas, and I have even seen homemade salsas, honeys, and hummus!  Baked goods are generally prevalent, as are homemade soaps and candles.  Some farmers markets have activities for children and entertainment throughout the day.  It is a great outing for the family, it’s FREE (unless you’re buying!), and a great way to support local farms. The vendors can tell you how to choose the best item, how to cook with it, and even give you some recipes! Most will let you sample the different varieties to find one you like.

Olde Schaumburg Centre Farmers Market

  • Fridays June 11-October 29 7am-1pm
  • Trickster Gallery parking lot; 190 S Roselle Road.
  • Nearest intersection: Roselle/Schaumburg Rd.
  • In the same area as Dominick’s and the Schaumburg Township Public Library.

Barlett Farmers Market

  • Fridays June 4-September 30 2-6pm
  • Bartlett Town Center, intersection of Main St/Railroad Ave

Elk Grove Village Farmers Market

  • Wednesdays June 2-September 29 7a-1p
  • Pavilion, intersection of Wellington/Biesterfield

Palatine Farmers Market

  • Saturdays May-October 7a-1p
  • Intersection of Wood St/Smith St

Elgin Harvest Market

  • Thursdays June-October 10a-4p
  • Civic Center parking lot, intersection of East Highland Ave/Douglas Ave

Barrington Farmers Market

  • Thursdays June 17-October 14 2-7p
  • Intersection of Park Ave/Cook ST.

South Barrington Arboretum – Seasons produce & specialty market

  • Friday 9a-5p, Saturday-Sunday 9a-4p
  • Arboretum shopping center, intersection of Higgins Rd/Rt-59

Goebberts Farm

  • June-October, M-F 9a-7p, Sat-Sun 9a-6p
  • 40 W Higgins Rd; South Barrington IL
  • This place is known for their pumpkins in the fall, but they have EVERYTHING and they are open from April-October with produce, plants, flowers, and everything else you might need.