Rick and I have visited wholesale markets in both the San Francisco bay area and the metro area. We live in the SF bay area, so when we buy from our local wholesale produce markets we buy enough food to last us about 3 weeks. Why so much? The food available at wholesale markets is sold in boxes or cases. This works well for us because the produce is so fresh, that it lasts for often weeks at a time in our large-capacity dedicated refrigerator. We have found that when we buy lettuce at wholesale, the heads are very large, since very few, if any of the outer leaves have been removed. These heads of lettuce are generally larger than the heads we see at the grocery store, which likely have had leaves removed to maintain a fresh look. I really enjoy going to wholesale markets because of the wide variety of food available, especially organic. A very large percentage of the food that we eat is organically grown.
For produce enthusiasts like us, wholesale markets can be a great way to purchase in quantity and save a notable amount of money. Rick has calculated that on average, we spend about 50% less money on produce from the wholesale markets than we would spend on the same amount of produce at the grocery store. You may be wondering if we go to farmer’s markets and the answer is yes, we love our local farmer’s market! We can often find foods at the farmer’s market that are not available at the wholesale market and vice versa.
The wholesale markets we have attended open around midnight or later and close around 10 am or earlier, depending on the vendor, so Rick and I find ourselves waking at 5 am to beat rush hour to the markets. I especially love these markets, since our need to go shopping for food weekly is drastically reduced. I find myself only having to do some minor fill-in shopping for items not available at the wholesale markets, maybe once a week or twice a month. With this shopping strategy, Rick and I overall spend much less time shopping and have more time available for work and other activities we enjoy.
The challenge is that our local wholesale markets are in San Francisco and which is about an hour and fifteen minutes away from our home if there is little traffic. The wholesale produce market that we have visited in the area is in the Bronx, which is also about an hour and fifteen minutes from our parents’ homes, where we stay on our visits to the metro area. This market has similar hours to our bay area wholesale markets but is much larger.
Without a doubt, wholesale markets are certainly an experience and a great way to buy fresh produce in quantity. They can also be a tremendous resource for people who live in areas that have limited access to fresh produce year-round, providing that the person lives within driving distance of a wholesale market. Many major metro areas have wholesale markets, and our experience at the two we have visited is that most vendors sell to individuals, although some sell exclusively to businesses. You will have to check with individual vendors to learn their sales policies.