Is any one else surprised that Rhubarb is 4.00 a pound at the farmers market?

That's more than tomatoes that are more labor intensive!! I found it several places at that price but finally found it for $3!

  • Posted by: LauriL
  • June 1, 2013


vv May 25, 2022
No: that’s a normal market price for organic rhubarb. Anything less likely means industrialized agriculture, slave labor wages, depletion of soil, etc.
Please keep in mind that rhubarb only grows a very short time in spring, but takes up A LOT of farm real estate (large, perennial plants, can’t be replaced with another crop as the seasons move on). Those prices reflect the lives and livelihoods of farmers: it isn’t cheap to grow and bring to market and shouldn’t be. $4 is low, but we are forced to sell for little to no profit because people want cheap everything.
LauriL June 11, 2013
I just bought a jar (8oz) of freshly made strawberry/rhubarb preserves from a farmer in my home town of Ashford CT and it was only $5.00!! And that included the jar!! Obviously he did not pass along his labor or gas costs to the consumer! I must ask him next week how he breaks down his costs.
susan G. June 10, 2013
In my local small grocery in NH, local rhubarb is $.50 per stalk. Let's face it, there's no free lunch -- or dessert.
mainecook61 June 10, 2013
$4.00 a pound does not seem unreasonable to me. Someone had to 1)plant it 2) weed it 3)fertilize it 4) cut it 5)remove the inedible leaves and 6) transport it to market. Sure, it's mostly water, but that's true of most plants. And if you start your own patch, which will last forever with some care, don't waste time trying to start it from seed. Get some roots from someone with an established bed; also, any reputable seed company sells the roots.
susan G. June 7, 2013
Here's another factor: commercial farming, especially on the 'agribusiness' scale, is government subsidized, plus they benefit from economy of scale and low wage labor. Rhubarb may not be the best example to justify pricing, but their real costs are reflected in the prices they charge. The rhubarb sold at a higher price may allow them to charge a little less for the labor/material intensive crops.
susan G. June 7, 2013
That is, real costs to small scale farms.
ATG117 June 2, 2013
I do still think this comes back to market demand. If they weren't selling enough at that price, they'd lower it. When I go to the farmers market each week, I first scout out all the booths and then circle back. I usually find price discrepancies for equally good produce. Perhaps someone else says it for less?
TobiT June 2, 2013
The other thing is that some of the farmer's other crops may not be doing so well this year and he/she hasn't been able to bring a lot if the usual product to market. The land, planting, feeding, harvesting, transport and life in general still costs as much as it always does (or more), so if the rhubarb is good and people are buying, that additional dollar a pound could really make a difference.
smslaw June 2, 2013
Remember that the part you buy is just the edible stalk. That's small part of the plant. The farmer has to cut it, wash it transport it and compost whatever isn't salable. A pound of rhubarb is a pretty big bunch.
I suggest you but a plant or two. It is easy to grow, pest free and at least here in Maine, requires almost no attention, no fertilizer, rarely needs supplemental water.
arcane54 June 2, 2013
Rhubarb is very east to divide, so next time you're visiting your friends who have rhubarb patches, ask them if they plan to divide their clumps (good to do periodically to maintain vigor/productivity). It's best in the early spring (at least here in OR) and takes a sharp knife or spade. Pretty soon, you'll be dividing clumps for your friends (or planting even more...). P.S. $4 seems about a $1 more than our stores are charging (more if it's organic). However, in my experience there are very few pests and compost/manure is the best fertilizer.
Hilarybee June 2, 2013
yikes! It is definitely a lot of work to farm-work to transport to the market, work to set up the tent, break it down etc. At my market, I paid $3 for a large bunch of rhubarb this morning. I weighed it--it was about 2 1/2 pounds. Ohio is cheap, though-- and I find my food costs are substantially less than my friends in the west and northeast.

Voted the Best Reply!

Maedl June 2, 2013
Farmers have to pay for their land and invest in its health. They have to pay for harvesting, transporting the goods to the market, and for the spot they occupy in the market. If the produce is organic, that means a lot of extra paperwork and record keeping. They also put time in going to and from the market and running their stand. and crops don't always succeed--they are lost to drought, floods, or insect infestation, so a farmer needs some emergency funds. Perhaps they have children that will need an education and health insurance. And if the farmer doesn't want to work his fields until he drops from old age, he has to put money aside for the future. You are paying the costs for non-industrial food up front and you have the opportunity to know where your food comes from. It isn't like farm factory food, where there are hidden costs that will reappear later on to take a big bit out of you.
ChefJune June 2, 2013
Did you ask the farmer how much they have to pay to bring their produce to that market? Here in New York it is a lot! Plus their transportation costs. That adds to the price of anything they sell. However the quality and the extended shelf life of those products may be worth it to you...
LauriL June 2, 2013
The farm is 5 miles from the market. I thought that part of buying local was to help the farmer NOT to have to go long distances to save on transportation costs!
vv May 25, 2022
“Transportation cost” is as much getting everything prepped (harvested, washed, packaged, packed in vehicle, unloaded, set up) as it is mikes driven. Sure, 5 miles is a little less gas, but all the labor of transportation remains exactly the same. Plus, we have to PAY to set up at the market, AND have to pay a percentage to the market at the end of day IN ADDITION to the rental of spots AND mandatory vendor insurance.
Winifred R. June 1, 2013
More likely your farmer's market folks with the high price are reading websites like this and seeing that rhubarb is "cool." So based on the cool factor upped the price. Since you're in CT where rhubarb grows, plant some (or several varieties) and enjoy it as it really is a low maintenance plant. I will sit here in coastal Virginia and stew (take that as a pun if you like) in envy as it doesn't grow well here - I've tried, and I think the winters are too warm. Enjoy!
vv May 25, 2022
Pretty insulting to farmers. Rhubarb is a very large plant — takes up a lot of garden/farm real estate — and because it’s perennial can’t be swapped out with a later season crop. It’s only harvestable a short period in spring and very early summer (if you’re lucky). Plus we pay the rental fees for vendor spots, percentage of sales to the market managers, mandatory insurance, packaging and transportation, and on and on. Please have a little respect for the people who feed you, and do it without destroying the soil, or hiring slave labor.
Winifred R. May 25, 2022
Glad you’re ready to respond nearly 10 years late and can be disrespectful to someone of considerations of price changes since then. I see you had to respond to everyone. BTW I sell figs to my local farm stand and my sale price hasn’t gone up although it’s now tougher for me to be able to recover from falls, etc., while picking. Get over yourself.
paseo May 29, 2022
I am sorry you felt it necessary to insult and denigrate vv's replies. As someone very familiar with how much small farmers have to pay for nearly everything w/o the subsidies the industrial farms receive I though her relies were excellent at trying to explain why small farmers have to charge what they do to at least (hopefully) break even. And no, she did not respond to everyone (I counted three). And your last sentence was insulting and unnecessary.
paseo May 29, 2022
My math was off , but I still think she's correct. Why do Americans think the food they but (wherever they purchase it) should be cheap?
SKK June 1, 2013
Rhubarb is easy to grow and takes space. Plant it, and don't harvest until the second year. There really isn't much labor. Grow it yourself.
LauriL June 2, 2013
In addition to the all the lessons on economics that I got with my initial question.....I like your answer the best! Also, Trena gave me a good seed source!
mensaque June 1, 2013
We've had the same problem im Brazil last month with tomatoes.They were the equivalent to 5,00 dollars a kilogram,an increase of 130% in the last year.
LauriL June 2, 2013
Woah! That is a bit steep for tomatoes but here we pay 3.00 dollars for 2.2 kilograms. Can they substantiate a 130% increase? Do they top dress the plants with gold dust? LOL
paseo June 1, 2013
What about their labor. Isn't it worth something? They are growing it and getting it to a place that's convenient for you. Perhaps you should find a place for it in your garden. I don't think farmers should do what they do simply for the love of it and their satisfaction.
cookbookchick June 1, 2013
It may be a case of "whatever the market will bear," especially if you live in a more affluent part of CT. I find here in Annapolis, MD, prices at our local farmers' market seem awfully high, but there are a lot of folks around here with deeper pockets. If the farmers can get what they're asking, well..
vv May 25, 2022
How about we’re trying to not go broke feeding you? You really think $4 for rhubarb is anything more than bare minimum? Please stop disrespecting the people who break their backs and banks to feed you. Food isn’t cheap, and you shouldn’t expect it to be.
LauriL June 1, 2013
Well, I did ask her and she said they had to fertilize it. Last time I looked manure was pretty in free!! I have lots of friends that have patches (don't live close enough to share)that say they don't do a thing to it and they've had there's for 15 years!! I know the farmers need to put food on their own tables but I would feel better paying 2.00/lb. After all the stalks are all water!!!
vv May 25, 2022
Well then you really don’t know (or care) that farmers need to feed ourselves too. “Stalks are all water”? Really? Sos your coffee, and your body. How cheap should you sell your almost all water body? Rhubarb is large, the season is terribly short, it’s perennial so you can’t replace it with another crop that you can sell the rest of the season… You’d “feel better” paying slave wage prices for your food?
cookbookchick June 1, 2013
Where are you?
LauriL June 1, 2013
Northeastern CT!! Grows like weeds here!
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