And that's when Yelp came to our aid. I remember getting fantastic deals on produce in San Diego at North Park Produce (the place is a trip: they have like five kinds of feta), and I hadn't yet found a store like that out here in the valley. The farmer's markets are great but they're ridiculously pricey. Sorry, Farmer Joe, I don't care how local and awesome you are, I am not buying six dollar lettuce. The supermarkets have decent deals but only on a couple items each week, and the quality is only so-so. So I decided to just start searching around for good online reviews for produce and I found some glowing feedback on a place out in the east valley, Superstition Ranch Market.
I have a weekly meeting on Saturdays towards that part of town, so I decided to scoot on over and see it for myself. An old building about the size of a corner store had at least sixty cars outside, and the scene inside rivaled Costco on a Saturday: moms and old men gently trying to waddle their carts through a store clearly too small for the demand. There were actual little lines for the stuff that was on sale. But I immediately saw why it was so busy: everything was crazy dirt cheap and looked delicious. While they sold some bread & healthy snacks, just about the entire place was stocked with fruits and veggies. Here is our haul:
4 Red Bell Peppers: $1.00
5 Garlic cloves: $0.89
1 Large Avocado: $1.50
2.28 lbs of Red Cherries: $2.26 ($0.99/lb)
1.21 lbs of Ranier Cherries: $1.20 ($0.99/lb)
3.46 lbs of Grapes: $1.18 ($0.34/lb)
.75 lbs of Red Plumbs: $0.11 ($0.15/lb)
12 oz Blackberries: $1.50
I would have bought more and there were plenty of deals calling my name, but I had limited space underneath the seat of the scooter and I didn't bring my backpack. Still, I was really happy with the value and the variety we could get here. Normally, I might see one or two sales like this in a given week. And when I got home to try some of the cherries, oh my goodness. So flipping sweet.
As I had my normal Saturday meeting somewhat in this part of town, I only had to ride an extra 6.5 miles out of my way to shop here (13 miles extra miles round-trip). Unfortunately, it's in the opposite direction of my house, so there isn't much of a way to optimize the trip. And as my meeting ends at 11:15, I'm scootering in some pretty nasty heat this time of year, flirting with the evil convection oven effect that occurs when it gets over 100. Also, if I'm trying to go just once a week, it's tricky to make it work on the scooter as we can only carry so much veggie goodness on a 125cc scoot.
That leaves a few options:
- I can suck it up, load the backpack & basket, & just ride the scooter once a week on Saturdays.
- I can give up on this store as it's pretty far away: 14 miles on local roads each way, so 28 miles round-trip from my house.
- I can make a separate trip out there from my house at a better time (as they close at 7:00 pm, 7:30 in the morning looks like the best bet).
- I can get in the car, turn on the AC, and ride out there whenever I feel like it to pick up a big haul.
I want to take option four off the table, especially since reading Jacob's excellent post on how gas prices aren't high enough. If I'm considering the car, clearly I'm not being properly incentivized by prices. And while taking the car would mean I could make a single large purchase and take fewer trips, the near gallon of gas spent each time would require a lot of produce to justify, and that large quantity starts to risk food waste. So that leaves options one, two, and three. (While biking is hypothetically an option, twenty-eight miles for groceries is a bit far for my flabby legs this time of year.)
On the other hand, while I don't want to drive the car, I'm a bit concerned that I might be taking multiple trips on the scooter whenever we run out of a specific fruit or veggie that we like. Even though the scoot gets 70 mpg, it still ends up being wasteful riding after a certain point. Two round trips in the scooter burn about as much gas as the car, and burn twice as much time.
What do you think, readers? Should we just stick to the big grocers that are within a mile or three, or is the juice worth the squeeze?