A new study suggests a new place to go, to save money on organic food: the farmers’ market.
A graduate student at Bard College ran a study on prices of both organic and conventional produce at farmers’ markets and nearby grocery stores in Vermont. He found that organic produce was invariably cheaper at the farmers’ markets than at the grocery stores. On average, the difference in price reached about 40%.
This is a remarkable finding, not only because it shows that you can buy organic produce much more cheaply at a farmers’ market than at the nearby supermarket, but because these results weren’t already common knowledge. Not only have few, if any, studies been conducted on relative prices for organic food, but the common impression is that supermarkets will be at least as cheap as the super-fresh, super-local, super-high-quality farmers’ market.
Of course, the study was limited to 10 farmers’ markets, all located in Vermont. There may be something about the farm and grocery economics of Vermont that won’t be matched in the rest of the country. But at the least, the study suggests that we should keep our eyes out at our own local farmers’ markets to see whether they pay off by as much as the study suggests.
Curiously, conventional produce was found most often to be more expensive at farmers’ markets than at grocery stores. So if you’re looking for conventional produce, it may not justify a special trip to the greenmarket.
Is organic food cheaper at your local farmers’ market than at the nearby grocery store?