Consuming fruits and vegetables is a great way to improve your diet and boost health. Meats are also beneficial, adding flavor and protein to your meals. But where should you be buying your food? Does it matter if it’s purchased at a supermarket? Or is a farmers market better? This battle of supermarket vs. farmers market is an old one, with some people greatly preferring one to the other. If you’re unaware of why one might seem a superior option, here is some information for you:
Prices vary greatly from farmers market to farmers market, and even individual stalls within a single market may have big ranges in what they charge.
However, numerous studies, like ones from Leopold Center and Bread Riot Local Food Advocacy, show that consumers pay more for fresh produce at the supermarket than at the farmers market.
Atmosphere & Convenience
A quick trip to the grocery store can be convenient. They seem to offer more convenience options everyday with online menus and even home delivery. Sometimes, though, it can feel like an impersonal, crowded headache.
Similarly, your experience at the farmers market could be hit or miss. A hit could entail a magical, sunny experience filled with friendly customer service, colorful produce and great samples.
A miss at the farmers market could consist of you driving way out of your way to find that now vendors sell your product. Everything could be rotten. It could be raining.
Generally, you’ll find a farmers market offers a more interactive experience. But you could be sacrificing convenience in order to get that personal touch.
It’s hard to generalize, as every store and market is different. Supermarkets and farmers markets alike may be inconvenient or convenient based on your particular circumstances. Try out your local options before ruling anything out.
What You’re Supporting
While it may be easier to drive to the grocery store to pick up everything you want in one place, it may not be the communally responsible option. When you buy produce and meat at the farmers market, you’re supporting farmers from your local area.
Information compiled by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance states that when you buy at a supermarket, about 15 cents of every dollar gets fed back into your local community. Buying at a local farmers market generates at least two or three times that amount.
In 2011, the Capital City Public Market of Boise, Idaho brought more than $4 million to the local economy. Other farmers markets around the country are bringing in hundreds of thousands for their communities.
The local economic benefits stretch even greater than profits. Farmers markets are responsible for creating local jobs. According to a 2011 Economic Research Service report, farms that sell locally create more than four times as many jobs as those that do not sell regionally per $1 million in revenue. In 2008, farms vending locally created an estimated 61,000 jobs.
Plus, you’re feeding the income and livelihood of those bringing the products to the market. It’s always nice to help a neighbor.
What You’re Buying
Again, it may be more convenient to stop at the supermarket. But, it might not be tastier. And it might not be healthier.
In general, local farmers use fewer harmful pesticides than huge factory farms. There is less chance the farmers market apples have been doused in chemicals to make them bigger and better equipped for across-the-country travel, for example. They weren’t pulled before they were ripe and they weren’t left in storage for days.
The majority of farmers market produce has traveled fewer than 50 miles to reach its final healthy vending spot. They’re as fresh as they’ll get. Comparatively, supermarket produce can travel, on average, 1,500 miles before hitting the shelves. In the time the supermarket’s fruits and vegetables are travelling, they pass their nutritional peak, leaving you with less vitamins and minerals.
Not all farmers market produce is grown locally, but if you want to know more about the fruits and vegetables for sale, you can probably just ask the person behind the counter.
Due to the heavier use of chemicals, supermarket produce may have less to offer taste-wise, too. Take a bite of a local, chemical-free apple at the farmers market. If you’re accustomed to supermarket apples, it may taste totally different, totally flavorful.
Ultimately, you need to explore the options near you and evaluate them based on your personal preferences. While the above facts are true in general, they cannot and do not accurately describe every single supermarket and farmers market.