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The Ferry Plaza Farmers Market Markup: Fact or Fiction?

Rebecca Flint Marx | October 27, 2014 | Story Ingredient

This is part of "Live Large, Spend Less," a comprehensive guide to surviving (and even flourishing) in America's most expensive city. See all of the stories here.

The Ferry Plaza Farmers market has a reputation as the best—and priciest— greenmarket in town. But Marcy Coburn, the executive director for the Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture (CUESA), says the market’s markups are more myth than fact.

“We’ve done quite a lot of analysis internally and contracted out to do it externally, and we’re extremely in line with the other markets in San Francisco,” Coburn says. “The exception is when farmers bring specialty products like alpine strawberries. But across the board, prices for regular stuff like kale or lettuce are comparable to the other markets.”

In our experience, the reality is a bit more complicated: Though we’ve found that prices throughout CUESA’s network of markets are indeed comparable, the best values we’ve seen are at the Alemany and Heart of the City farmers’ markets. At the latter, which is independently operated, you’ll find $1.50 bunches of organic kale and carrots at 75 cents a pound. And the city-run Alemany abounds with 50-cent fennel bulbs and $2-per- pound Japanese cucumbers. So while the Ferry Plaza market can claim top quality, the bottom line is that your bottom line will fare better elsewhere.

Originally published in the November issue of San Francisco magazine

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