After reading a few articles on the dangers of chemicals used liberally in farms around the world, I had an increased craving for local, organic foods. It seemed like a pipe dream, though, as my bank account did not reflect the swanky figures I thought that I needed to have to buy organic produce from the local farmers’ market. After doing a bit more research and my own comparisons, I’ve discovered that, with the exception of potatoes, all of the organic produce at the farmers’ market was less expensive than the conventionally grown and organic products at grocery stores.
The first study that I came across was conducted in summer 2010 in a few farmers’ markets in Vermont. The team compared the prices on eggs, potatoes, blueberries, corn, cucumbers, green peppers, head of lettuce, spring mix and Mesclun, snow peas, string beans, squash and tomatoes. The results:
- Grocery store organic foods to farmers’ market organic foods: Farmers’ markets held a strong degree of consistency when it came to the battle of organic produce. Their prices were lower than what supermarkets could offer. You could save an average of 38.8%.
- Grocery store conventionally grown foods to farmers’ market conventionally grown foods: Farmers’ market prices were an average of 36% lower.
- Grocery store conventional foods to farmers’ market organic foods: Prices varied depending on the product. Cucumber prices were generally the same; cantaloupe and snow peas cost less at farmers’ markets whereas eggs and potatoes were significantly more expensive.
This prompted me to do my own local study. By no means as vast as the aforementioned case, I went to four farmers’ markets in the Covington/Conyers area. I was surprised that most of the produce I encountered was conventionally grown. Ridiculously large, symmetrical and flawless food kind of scares me and is a tell-tell sign that something has been used–especially since the markets didn’t even claim the products were organic. Since I did not have adequate resources to compare organic products, I compared farmers’ market conventional produce to grocery store conventional produce. I found that:
- tomatoes, cucumbers, oranges, and zucchini were cheaper at the farmers’ market
- eggs, potatoes, mangoes,green beans, and pineapple were cheaper at the grocery store
Interesting, the prices of conventional produce varied similar to the findings in the Vermont studies.
Conclusion: If you desire quality, organic foods, your farmer’s market is the best way to go. If you’re searching for conventionally grown products, you’ll need to do your research and maybe make two stops. Even with the occasional higher price at the market, I admit that I’m more drawn to it. There is something about supporting the under-dog, local growers that appeals to me so much more than saving a few cents at a national chain.