I don’t know about any other NOLA area moms, but I know there is one GIANT thorn in my side (and pocketbook) that I am about to address:
The Supermarket Scene in NOLA
Is it me, or are supermarkets in the NOLA metro area crazy expensive? Each month, I find myself tallying up grocery expenses and literally gasping out loud when I see how much money gets spent at the supermarket. I know I’m not alone, as Ashley and I have discussed on several occasions that we both often feel like we spend an exhorbitant amount of our budgets on grocery shopping. I sometimes wonder if it’s because we live in a food-centric city and culture; we all know that in New Orleans and South Louisiana, we don’t eat to live, we LIVE TO EAT. (And I say this as I just polished off a second slice of king cake).
I also personally believe that we have a shortage of grocery options in our area. While some cities across the U.S. boast grocery chains like Kroger, Publix, Safeway, Food Lion, and the famous Trader Joe’s, we are limited to a handful of grocery stores like Winn Dixie, Rouse’s, and the big blue-box store who shall remain nameless as I LOATHE going there. I often times am disappointed in the produce at most of our local markets because it all looks waxy, beaten up or wrinkly. (Is it just me, or do the bananas lately look like they were beaten with a bat?)
In order for me to get fresh fruits, veggies, meats and seafood that I am not worried will spoil right after purchase, I have finally realized that I have to LITERALLY think OUTSIDE the BIG BOX when it comes to the grocery. It dawned on me right before the holidays when my mom and I went to the German Coast Farmer’s Market that I have a great option right down the road!
German Coast Farmer’s Market
Since 2003, the German Coast Farmer’s Market has been part of the landscape of the River Parishes, offering local farmers and other vendors the opportunity to reach the public directly with the freshest produce and handmade products. Since its inception, the market has expanded to also include a weekly Wednesday market on the West Bank in St. Charles Parish. In both 2010 and 2011, it was bestowed the honor of Louisiana’s Favorite Farmer’s Market and boasts a list of over 25 vendors that sell everything from fresh veggies to handmade all natural soap, pretty much ensuring that you can stock up on a wide range of items as if you were in your local big box store!
Because I am a full-time working mom, the only time I can attend the GCFM is during their Saturday market which is held on the beautiful grounds of Ormond Plantation in Destrehan every Saturday from 8am-12pm. The Saturday market features many great local vendors with everything from fresh, local produce, meats, wines, handmade all natural soaps, candles, and even plant sales in case you want to try your hand at growing your own fresh veggies. If you would rather visit the GCFM on a weekday, you can also attend their Mid-Week Market which is held in Luling at the St. Charles Plaza Shopping Center on Highway 90 from 2:30-6 pm to do some grocery shopping!
What to Expect if You Venture to The Market
On the particular day that my mother and I went to the market, I brought $20 cash with me. I wound up getting a huge head of Romanesco (which is a cross between cauliflower and broccoli), some fresh baby bok choy, large green onions, carrots, a head of cabbage (for New Years!), Swiss Chard, parsley, cilantro and satsumas. I spent less than $15 on all of that produce, which was fresh, organic and straight from the farmers. I also stocked up on some last minute Christmas gifts like handmade soaps and candles from some very talented local artisans. Had my freezer not been full of protein already, I could have also stocked up on fresh local meat and seafood as well. While you are shopping, also be prepared to be entertained. The market is very family and pet friendly with lots of events for both your little ones and furry family throughout the year like live music, cooking demonstrations (with tastings!), pet parades, costume contests, and even their own Kid’s Krewe du Market Mardi Gras Parade.
While shopping, a local chef prepared Gumbo Z’herbes and offered up tastings to all of the shoppers AND Andrew got to chat with Santa who was there for any last minute requests! The best part was that the shopping experience was DELIGHTFUL. The vendors were incredibly friendly and helpful, the service was impeccable, and the prices couldn’t be beat. I felt great knowing that I was keeping it local and getting the best that our region has to offer.
If you are curious about what vendors and/or items will be at the market each week, I encourage you to sign up for the weekly email updates and like their page on Facebook, where weekly announcements, listings of foods available, events, and even recipes are posted regularly. Their website also offers information listings on their regular vendors, recipes, their schedule and information on their “seedling cards.” From there, you can create your grocery list and maximize your shopping AND savings potential. Be sure to bring cash, though, as many of the vendors are on a cash-only basis. Some are credit card prepared, but not all! Also, for the best selection, arrive early!
I know for some NOLA area moms, the trip out to the German Coast Farmer’s Market may seem like a long one. Honestly, as a resident of the River Parishes, I LOVE that this market is LITERALLY in my backyard. However, when in search of high quality, fresh local produce I have made the drive as far as Algiers or Uptown to do my shopping and get fresh local ingredients. But if you would like to meet the friendly farmers growing your produce, support the local economy, and get fresh, local goods, please consider coming out to Destrehan or Luling to visit the German Coast Farmer’s Market!
If you don’t have the time or resources to drive out to the River Parishes, there are also several other markets in the area. In New Orleans, there is the Hollygrove Market; on the northshore, there is the Mandeville Farmer’s Market, as well as the Covington Farmer’s Market.