Eating Healthy, Spending Healthy

By Victoria Lee.

A local farmer’s market provides healthy alternatives at the social heart of the University of Hawaii.  Campus Center has more to offer than cafeteria food or fast food.  The farmer’s market visits Campus Center every Tuesday and Friday from 7 a.m. to about 2:30 p.m., providing fresh, locally grown produce to students and faculty for prices comparative to the chain grocery stores.

The farmer’s market is located at Campus Center outside of the ATM, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell facilities.  The farmer’s market accepts cash only.  Due to class time variation and a friendly, helpful staff, the lines are often short and move fairly quickly.  The fruits and vegetables are positioned on both sides of the walk way, all clearly labeled and organized.  The smaller space helps maintain a fast and easy shopping trip.  However, it can become somewhat cramped and congested due to the lack of space and flow of student traffic.

The farmer’s market provides a wide range of fruits and vegetables that could help customers avoid a trip to the grocery store.  Some of the fruits and vegetables offered include apples, apple bananas, bananas, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, carrots, garlic, grapes, lemon, lime, onion, oranges, papaya, peaches, red/green bell peppers, plums, romaine (along with a larger variety of lettuces), sprouts, tomatoes, and watermelon.  In addition, the farmer’s market also sells a variety of herbs and spices.

Although the farmer’s market is available and convenient for both students and faculty alike, the market could be particularly useful for those students living on campus. The nearest grocery store to UH besides “The Market,” the on-campus convenient store, is a 15 to 20 minute bus ride or walk, depending on the store.  The distance between UH and the larger grocery stores discourages students from buying produce, resulting in students relying on cafeterias and “The Market” for snack and meals.

The convenience of having a fresh market near the location of classes and other campus attractions, alone is a very important attribute of the farmer’s market.  Moreover, the farmer’s market does not have another location, it is completely aimed toward the UH populace.  The owners know the public to which they are selling to and conduct their market accordingly, making it easier and more reliable for students.

“It’s a convenient place for students to buy locally grown produce,” says sophomore Ali Bailey after being asked her thoughts on the farmer’s market.

Although after living on campus for two years Ali Bailey has never purchased anything from the farmer’s market, she claims that she would ideally like to shop there more in order to support locally grown produce and after learning the savings she will most likely shop there more often.

Furthermore, the farmer’s market offers locally grown produce that “The Market” does not and for reasonable prices, with some products being more cost efficient than those of other grocery stores. Although “The Market” is a good alternative to the cafeterias for students living on campus, unfortunately they only sell a variety of about 4 to 6 different fruits.  Although students can use their meals and points there, “The Market” rotates through their fruit based on availability, not having any one fruit offered consistently.

The farmer’s market provides all their fruits and vegetables regularly and at practical prices.  Savings on onions could be up to about $1.50 compared to Safeway and Foodland.  The farmer’s market selling them at $1.50 for two according to the market’s labeled prices, Safeway’s priced at $1.50 each according to in store labels, and Foodland at $2.29 each gathered from in store data.  The farmer’s market also produces good savings on romaine, selling them at $2.50 for two, Safeway at $1.89 per lb (about one head), and Foodland at $1.59 each; the savings adding up to about $1.00.  Both items are also not available at “The Market.”

The other prices of produce items remain about consistent between the farmer’s market and Safeway but fluctuate with the produce prices at Foodland and “The Market”.  Bananas are $1.09 per 1b (about three bananas) across the board, with the exception of “The Market” which prices them at $1.09 each according to in store prices.  Apple prices stand fairly equal between all the stores: the farmer’s market at $1.00 each, Safeway at $2.49 per lb (about two apples), Foodland at $1.99 per lb, and “The Market” at $0.99 each.  Oranges are sold for $0.60 at the farmer’s market, $1.99 per lb (about two oranges) at Safeway and Foodland, and $0.99 at “The Market.”

Again, the farmer’s market provides many fruits and vegetables that are not available at the on-campus store.  Lime is available at the farmer’s market for $1.50 for three limes, at Safeway for $2.99 per lb (about 16 limes), and $0.69 each at Foodland.  The farmer’s market also sells tomatoes at $2.00 for two, about equal to Safeway’s $1.99 per lb, but cheaper than Foodland’s $3.99 per lb.

Although the prices show to be competitive with the larger grocery stores, Safeway and Foodland allow for more shopper freedom concerning variety.  As expected, the larger stores sell a much larger assortment of produce.  Some missing items are asparagus, mangos, mushrooms, strawberries (along with all other berries), and zucchini. These items are all provided at the larger stores.

There are both favorable and unfavorable aspects to the farmer’s market, for example some of the groceries at the farmer’s market are sold in packs of twos or threes, while the grocery stores are available individually, allowing the shopper more freedom in quantity and quality.  Additionally, the farmer’s market also only takes cash as payment.  However, at both Safeway and Foodland, a club card is required in order to take advantage of any sales while prices remain equally available and stable to all costumers at the farmer’s market.

Ultimately, the major differences are in the variety of foods and the prices of the foods.  If one was looking for a quick healthy snack or just to pick up some salad or sandwich items, the farmer’s market would be the more effective place to shop.  However, if one was looking to fulfill a larger shopping list, a trip to one of the chain grocery stores may be the better option.