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I Buy Produce at the Flea Market

April 22nd, 2007 at 04:24 pm

Yup, you read correctly: I like to buy produce at the flea market.

Perhaps some background info would help... I live in an area with a booming Latino population. In our area, a lot of immigrants are small business owners, and the business of choice for many Latinos here is produce distribution. My best guess is they have a network of friends and family who own farms in the Southeast region and they gather and sell it, but I'm not really sure.

At any rate, there is a rather huge flea market in our town that is very centrally located to one of our main Latino communities. It caters to the regular flea market crowd, of course, so there are still rows upon rows of people selling all kinds of stuff. But, in the back quarter of the market, near the parking lot, it's like stepping into a street market from Central America. I love it!

There are hats, crafts, music, and food vendors among other things. In my trip yesterday I counted 4 produce vendors on the one row I visited, although I'm sure there are others in the areas I didn't visit.

So, you're probably asking: WHY bother going to the flea market to buy produce? Isn't it easier to just go to the store?

Sure, it's easier. It's not nearly as fun, though. As an added bonus the flea market produce is significantly cheaper. Most importantly, though, their produce is BETTER than just about anything I've found in any grocery store. Better, cheaper, and more fun? I'm so in!

As an aside, the other nice thing about the flea market produce is the variety. The rest of this entry is about pretty standard fair produce, but had I wanted to I could have could have bought mangoes, papayas, agave cactus leaves, mini-bananas, and a bunch of other things I've never really had before.

I went yesterday because my father was hosting a pot luck at his cigar store, and I wanted to bring pico de gallo, guacamole, and black beans. FYI, I bought the black beans at Publix in a can so they're not covered in the rest of the entry Big Grin

So, here's my haul from the flea market yesterday.



This includes 10 limes, 6 lbs of tomatoes, 5 avocadoes, 5 jalepenos, 2 poblano peppers, 2 onions, and a bunch of cilantro. My total was $18.

To give you an idea of what this would have cost in the grocery store I frequent:

10 limes @ 3 for a buck on sale = $3.33
6 lbs of tomatoes @ $1.99/lb on sale = $11.94
5 avocadoes @ $0.99/ea on sale = $4.95
5 jalepenos @ $1.99/lb on sale = $0.50
2 poblano peppers @ $2.99/lb on sale = $1.50
2 onions @ $0.99/lb on sale = $1.24
1 bunch cilantro @ $0.99/ea on sale = $0.99

That adds up to $24.45 + $0.74 in sales tax. Plus I would have to find all the items on sale, not to mention that the prices above are the best ones from two separate grocery stores, not just one.

And the best part? The flea market has produce in whatever stage of ripeness you want. Since this was all going to be eaten the day of purchase, I was able to get 6 lbs of perfectly ripe (and YUMMY) tomatoes, 5 avocadoes that slid out of their skin, and cilantro that looked like it might have been picked that morning.

The funniest part? There was less dirt in the cilantro from the flea market than in the stuff I buy from a regular store!!

8 Responses to “I Buy Produce at the Flea Market”

  1. DeniseNTexas Says:

    Oh, how do you make your pico? I love the stuff!

  2. homebody Says:

    My DH also makes pico de gallo every time he makes carne asada. He uses tomatoes, onion, hot pepper and cilantro chopped. Let it sit for a while. Yum.

    Great Stuff Tina!

  3. tinapbeana Says:

    denise, i make pico just like what homebody listed, but i add lime juice, sea salt, garlic powder, and black pepper. for me the lime juice is what makes it 'right' somehow...

  4. baselle Says:

    I love buying produce anywhere else than the grocery store. Do you have to do a lot of pawing?

  5. DeniseNTexas Says:

    Okay, thanks for the info on making pico. I need to try that. I love the stuff but haven't tried to make it.

  6. tinapbeana Says:

    good luck with the pico, denise. let us know how it goes!

    baselle: there is remarkable little pawing if i go to one of the bigger booths. the pickings are slim if i go later on sunday, but any time up to then they are continuously bringing in fresh stock. the trick to getting nicely ripe or over ripe for same-day consumption is to get there just after noon on saturday, when the first few layers have been bought and sifted over. for produce that will last throughout the week, they bring out fresh stock saturday afternoon and sunday morning.

  7. mbkonef Says:

    I used to sell at Flea Markets with my mother-in-law years ago and we always bought produce there. You could not beat it for price and freshness. I don't really have one convenient to me now but I still buy the majority of my produce at local produce outlets/farmers markets rather than the grocery store. I can buy 2-3 heads or romaine for $2.00 or $2.50 most weeks when the grocery store wants at least $1.99 lb. No way! Plus, at my local grocery store they "mist" the lettuce which I find makes it get gross much faster - it is wet so it only seems to last a few days. I only buy produce at the grocery store if is is on sale for a great price or I am desparate and don't have the time to hit a produce outlet.

  8. homebody Says:

    You know what I left out lime juice and garlic too!! You can tell I'm not the one actually making it!

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