Farmers' Markets Versus Grocery Stores: Which Is More Expensive?

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Potatoes, puhtahtoes, tomatoes, tomahtoes. What's the difference, right? For most of us, what we buy is heavily influenced by price. Most people assume that farmers' markets in the U.S., while lovely to look at, are not as affordable to regularly shop at as local chains. But is our assumption totally wrong?

Barry Eastbrook, whose blog, politicsoftheplate, recently won the top individual food blog prize by the James Beard Foundation, took a look at studies about the cost of produce at farmers' markets. He found that hardly anyone has actually studied the issue, and the few reports out have some surprising finds.

He points to a study of produce in Vermont towns that showed that conventionally grown produce at farmers' markets can cost less than grocery store produce. And, that organic produce from farmers' markets was almost always cheaper than organic produce from supermarkets. (The study found that organic produce was actually 40 percent cheaper than that found in supermarkets!)

True, the study was looking only at farmers' markets and supermarkets in a particular part of Vermont and looked onlyat one summer's offerings of the following dozen items: blueberries, cantaloupe, potatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, eggs, bell peppers, lettuce, peas, squash, string beans, and tomatoes. However, Eastbrook argues that the findings are in line with the few other reports out there -- that produce from farmers' markets is actually cheaper than the general public thinks.

What do you say? Are farmers' markets here cheaper? Where do you get the best deals? Report back! If you're looking to test your theory today, remember that the organic market at Green Wave Cafe is open Mondays from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Plantation.

Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.

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