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Should You Shop from Catalogs, or at Farmers' Markets?

Compare the holiday goods at your local farmers' market to what you can find in catalogs or online, and see where the real value is.

Are you having fun yet? As much as I love the frantic but gratifying activity that swirls around this holiday season, I have managed for much of the last 30 years to be operating businesses, including a catering business, that have kept me busy all through December. With Smart Markets I am not focused on deadlines as much as just working hard to search out and reach out to potential new vendors for next year’s markets, to locate new sites for new markets or markets we feel we need to relocate, and to write and send to a massive email list the application kit for 2012.

Whew! No wonder I can’t get anything done! But I am still having fun and hope you are too with whatever you choose to take on at this time of the year. I do not shop through the Internet, but I do look through all the catalogs for ideas and sometimes for gifts. I admit I am intrigued by the holiday foods that are featured in catalogs such as Dean and Deluca, Harry and David, Williams-Sonoma, and even Neiman Marcus and lots of others that only come at Christmastime, which of course now begins in August.

This year I have paid particular attention to the party foods and those foods that help families feed their holiday guests. Smart Markets has a number of local bakers and cooks who are doing similar and just as delicious items that you can preorder and pick up at our markets or even have personally delivered in some cases. And the price differentials are enormous! We have bakers offering homemade cookie assortments, mini-pastries from all over the world and other specialty items at such reasonable prices. In fact, next year I am going to suggest they charge more for their time and expertise. They are certainly worth it.

Just one example: Nancy Kahn will create for you a gorgeous large or mini wheel of brie in puff pastry with preserves and almonds, and all you have to do is pop it in the oven before your party. She is charging $25 for the 8-inch wheel — Neiman Marcus is charging $65!

The point of this is to remind you once again that you can find some delicious prepared foods at the local farmers’ markets all year long. And especially at this time of year, you can save so much of that precious time that is much better spent on what you can do for others anyway. On top of that, you are also doing for others whom you know in your own community when you shop at the markets. How’s that for taking care of two partridges with one pear tree?!

May the best images and feelings of the season stick with you all year!

One more thing — our own in-house jazz band leader, Rodney Richardson, is playing this Christmas Eve at Blues Alley. He will also be visiting my son, Mike Janssen, on his radio show on 89.3 FM WPFW Wednesday night from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tune in or listen online at WPFW’s website.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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