This is the second part of a two article series. The first article is located at this link (click here). There are several produce auctions in Iowa, and I give a more detailed account about the particular auction I attended at juliecache.com.
The savings. In general, most things sold at half or less than what grocers charge for corn, green beans, and fruit. However, high demand items like tomatoes were not cheaper. Some items would never be found in a store, like elderberries and heirloom vegetables, so there is no price comparison for them. I recorded the following sales at a recent auction.
- Anaheim peppers $2/peck
- Summer squash $1/peck
- Cantaloupe $0.85 each
- Bell peppers, multicolored $3.50/bushel
- A lot of 8 watermelons, averaging 20 lbs each, $4 each
- Elderberriers $1.50/quart (The auctioneer sold them as “easier than hunting for them yourself.” My youngest child and several adults I know disagree with that statement. Decide for yourself by searching for my Fruit in the city series or visit this article on foraging.)
Expenses: My round trip took approximately four gallons of gas ($13.76) and some time (free). I bought $18 worth of blackberries and $3 worth of red potatoes. Total spent: $34.76
Savings: I saved $18 in blackberries and $15 in potatoes. Total saved: $33
Difference: I spent more than I saved — $1.76. If I had bought a larger quantity of produce, if I had purchased different items, or I chose a different auction, the savings would have differed.
Conclusion: Financially, a produce auction may be worth a trip. If not for the savings, you may want to go for the experience. For me, I was buying things I would have bought anyway. The atmosphere was unique. For more details on my personal experience at a particular produce auction, head over to my personal website.
However, philosophically, a produce auction may be worthwhile to you no matter what the cost if…
- you agree with Shanen that keeping your food dollars out of the hands of out-of-state corporations is important.
- you believe in buying from the original farmer, not a reseller.
- you want to buy fresh and buy local. This is essentially a farmers market in a competitive atmosphere.
Iowa produce auctions:
- I put a video from the auction on my Twitter account last week. You can watch it, too, by visiting this link.
- Frytown Produce Auction (Yoder’s)
- Video of flower auction at Yoder’s
- There is also an auction, Wapsie Valley Produce Auction, in Hazelton, no online presence found.
- Southern Iowa Produce
- Farmsong Produce Auction
- Cedar Valley Produce Auction