How much is fresh worth to you? You can see it at the Homer Farmers Market twice a week, bulging out of baskets, bins, buckets and totes. You can also see it in dainty cups and individually showcased in braids and bunches.
Last week corn showed up at the Market — fresh Alaska grown sweet corn, carefully monitored for the perfect ripeness, picked at 8 a.m., sold out by 10:36 a.m. How much would you be willing to pay for such an item? Imagine this scene:
Customer Number 1: “Five dollars for an ear of corn? You’ve got to be kidding.”
Next customer in line: “I’ll take eight please.”
Both customers are right. Five dollars for an ear of corn is outrageous. And $5 for an ear of corn is worth it. Because fresh corn in Alaska is outrageous. Don’t let the big box grocery store all-food-cheap-and-always-available culture blind you to the fact that much of what our farmers do here is magic. Pure magic.
I don’t grow fennel anymore because I’m not magic and Paul Castellani is. His prices are modest to me. My garlic this year proved to me that I’m not magic with that either. But Lori at Synergy Gardens is. Her garlic braid in my kitchen makes me happy like my stack of firewood or freezer of fish and berries, so I didn’t ask about the price.
But economics has a basic theory of supply and demand that takes hold here too. For example, if you want enough broccoli to freeze, want it fresh but want lots of it, find someone like Bob Durr selling it at $2 a pound. The national average price per pound (in box stores and including nonorganic) is $2.36/pound for florets, $1.92/pound for heads. So Bob’s price is stunning considering that the broccoli was harvested within days or hours of sale and grown in Alaska soils without all the chemicals that are common in the Lower 48.
Bob has a lot of supply. Go ahead, take advantage of that. And look around — he’s not the only one.
And head on down to Ocean Drive from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. this Saturday or 2 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays to get the local food you value most.
Kyra Wagner is the coordinator of Sustainable Homer and the Homer Farmers Market’s biggest fan.