Looking for Fresh Produce – Farmer’s Markets and the West Georgia Farmers Co-Op

Both Donna and I had some familiarity with the South from our past experiences, but neither one of us had any real adult experience with living there, and we certainly had no experience at all with living in Georgia. Most of what we have found so far had actually been mostly in line with our expectations. However, there was one area in which we were very surprised.

Our first trip to the local supermarkets was disappointing to say the least. I knew from past experience, things I’d read and from a discussion with a store manager in Miami, that demographics determined what was sold in a store.

When I lived in Miami, it was tough to find low fat ground beef in the stores near us because the local population was not generally interested in buying it, so the market was too small for the stores to justify carrying it. In NJ we would go to certain stores within a few miles of home, but in different neighborhoods, to find some particular items.

I’d also read that stores mostly put the produce section first and frozen foods last relative to the logical entrance and exit. However, going against the sense this makes is the location of the deli, which is near the beginning close to produce. Store chains have found through trial and error that this configuration gives the best sales. All the stores I’ve been to in the northeast follow this pattern.

However, every store I’ve been in since moving here has produce tucked in the back, near the end. Deli and frozen foods are in the expected locations, but not produce. Also, the produce sections are very small and lack the variety I expect.

For that reason, as well as the fact that one of our goals is to eat fresh, organic produce, we went on a mission to find our best options. We started with the State Farmer’s Market in Atlanta. It’s about an hour away, and it’s huge and almost always open. It is the location for wholesalers and farmers and dealers and anyone looking for large quantities of produce. They also have a meat store and restaurant, but unfortunately neither is open on Sunday, when we visited.

As large as it was, we found it would not be practical to shop at that location. We continued our quest, and found a local store called Farmer’s Market, which had a larger selection of produce than local supermarkets, but the origin of the produce is unclear, and there is no indication about organics. Moving on…

We’d seen signs for the Farmer’s Market downtown, but hadn’t gotten there yet when we heard about a meeting of a farmer’s co-op at the local library. We attended, not really understanding what it was until we were there. At the meeting we met a few local farmers, got information about picking our own produce at their farms, and most importantly we got information about the downtown market.

Since then we have been attending almost weekly, and we’re getting a lot of great, fresh, and often organic produce. The farmers are friendly and proud of their produce. We even get fresh eggs at the market. Getting to know the farmers has been an experience in itself worth a trip to the market. This has turned out to be another great step in the direction we’ve been trying to go. We may not yet have our own organic garden, but we’re moving closer to eating like we do.

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