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Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Big Box to Love

by Uncle Dale

This is an article I never thought I would write but face it; backyard farmers go to grocery stores even though they hate it. I am embarrassed when friends catch me or my family at these stores but we are there out of necessity - they have low prices and our budget it limited. However, in the northeast, we have a big box even I love – Wegmans. As one newspaper headlined, “Wegmans is not just a store, it’s an experience.” Google “best grocery stores” and Wegmans is at the top of most lists.

I first experienced Wegmans when I had lunch with a coworker. Dale - “Where should we go?” Dave - “How about Wegmans?” Dale - “Isn’t that a grocery store?” Dave - “Dale, you have to see Wegmans.” When I entered Wegmans, I thought to myself “goodbye Walmart, your days are numbered.” Wegmans caters to every economic class from those on the most limited budgets to those who are looking for the most exotic food produced locally and around the world, for example 400 different types of cheese.    
As a backyard farmer, what I really like is that Wegmans features not only local produce, but also local farms. Displays of fruits, vegetables, and meats are set up for specific farms. Wegmans brings local farmers and consumers together. I visited with one of the farms that sells at Wegmans. It was a small farm – only 20 acres. They were happy with their relationship with Wegmans. Wegmans sends out a field representative regularly to check the farm for quality. A computer system is then set up where Wegmans solicits produce they are looking for and the farmer indicates what they currently have to offer.  It works smoothly. Wegmans is trying to raise the awareness of consumers towards local food. 
In addition to groceries, Wegmans is a restaurant with seating for up to 300 in various types of settings from board room to outdoor seating. Dozens of cuisines are offered, (no McDonalds) and you can watch chefs prepare some of the items. The recipes are available on how to make it yourself. I hate grocery stores but I love Wegmans.

I would like to read your comments on where you do your shopping as a backyard farmer. 


Anonymous said...

Wow, this sounds amazing. Sadly we don't have a Wegmans in CA. I guess the closest thing would be Trader Joes or Whole Foods. Too bad!

Mike said...

Whole foods has organic and sometimes local food here but the prices are more than most backyard farmers can afford. Harmon's has a limited amount of produce from local farmer's but again they are too expensive. Maybe we need a Wegman's out here. I must admit, 300 kinds of cheese sounds like heaven on earth.

Anonymous said...

As a Canadian living 30 minutes from Buffalo, I think it's time to do a little cross-border shopping! I have heard of Wegmans but I had no idea what it was like.

For my non-food items, I shop at discount supermarkets, but there is a more upscale store I go to that carries a lot of organic produce and dairy. Their meats are not organic, but are labeled free of antibiotics, BGH, and the animals were grain fed only, no animal byproducts. I also frequent some local farmers selling grass-fed beef. Our farmer's market is expensive and *yuppyfied*, so I would rather buy at the farmgate.

daisy said...

We get most of our produce (organic) through our co-op and from a local farmer directly. Everything else is bought at Publix, the best grocery store in the south. Summer time is not conducive to growing our own, so we must buy elsewhere!

Dollwood Farms said...

I would love to have a Wegmans too! I guess the closest we have is Whole Foods. I am also in the south and Publix IS the best grocery store around. Unfortunately, they are a little high, but the quality is there so you can't complain.