Monday, June 30, 2008

Flea Markets and Personal Preparedness?

You've got to be kidding! Do you think you read the title right? Flea markets associated with home storage, let alone food storage?

Well of all people I love a good flea market. In fact I really love a really good flea market, the kind I could find every Saturday morining when we lived in the Bay Area in California. This means the thrill of the hunt is a number one priority for me. I am a bargain hunter's bargain hunter! When I find a super deal I have learned how to control my exuberance - until I get to the end of the aisle and then the victory dance is a non-describable display. Unless someone is there who knows me and then the automatic comment is, "There goes Barbara again".

With this background in mind you need to understand when flea market shopping is NOT the bargain basement of good deals. In fact we will just call it the basement - a dark, grungy, dank, dirty basement. Do you get the picture?

No matter how limited your budget, DO NOT shop for the foods for your pantry in the flea market. With the economy on it's slippery-slide-downward spiral, many are now looking for any and all ways to save.

Yes, there are booths and blue tarps on the ground at flea markets and swap meets displaying everything from canned fruit to soup to baby foods. And yes, the prices usually seem to be phenomenal compared to the prices in the supermarkets. And they usually are. However, you need to be aware of several important points.

The person selling that product does not have to have a license to sell food. Therefore, no health standards have to be met in that selling arena.

That food could come from what is callled "freight damaged product." This means the seller, or jobber, could have picked up the contents of a semi-trailer from a wrecking yard or at some other freight outlet. If there has been an accident that load of freight, or in this instance food, could have undergone extreme pressure during the crashing, banging and bouncing. This in turn could have broken seams or rims allowing dirt, toxins and who knows what else to enter into the food containers. Or another option for the seller is discarded goods, no longer appropriate for store shelves but made available to dealers.

Therefore, Barbara's rule, as well as common sense, is to never buy packaged food products -canned, paper, cardboard, foil, or anything that you find in a grocery product category at a swap meet. Especially if it is in disarray, dirty, dusty, scruffed, smashed, dented, or any other description that you can come up with.

"What about non-foods? Barbara, have you seen the prices?" Yes, I have. Let me offer a few more guidelines.

The lowest price is not always the best price. (Reread the basement description.) For example, consider baby or toddle goods, such as oil, shampoo, lotion, baby wipes or any item that might be used in contact with tender, gentle skin. You have no idea what the product has been exposed to. In turn you have no idea what you will be exposing your baby to. This statement definitley includes disposable diapers!

If there is a booth where it is obvious that the seller is a dealer in a specific brand of cosmetic, then you might consider looking and asking questions before you buy for yourself or other adults.

Now, what about paper products, cleansers, soaps and other similar products? The same rules apply. If it is something that is going to be used on or near the skin, such as hand soap or toilet paper, take a second look as to how the products are displayed, the item's appearance and the condition of the packaging.

Be aware and pay attention. There are many more bargains to be found in the flea market besides the trained fleas. Just don't count on finding items that belong on the shelf in your pantry. In fact it would be better to not look for them in a flea market atmosphere.

Oh yes, that dancing lady at the end of aisle four, over by the driveway? Did you notice if it was a teddy bear or an antique she was clasping as she created the dancing dust storm on the way to the parking lot?

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1 comments:

Candace E. Salima said...

I clicked on a few topics to cruise through blogland looking for blogs on disaster preparedness, or rather, preparedness principles . . . you're the only voice of reason in a crazy world, Barbara! At least the Preparedness Principles world! Thank you, thank you, thank you!