Most people think farmers' markets are more expensive than supermarkets—but studies don't always support that conclusion. In fact, they're often cheaper.
We're all familiar with the accepted gospel: Only well-heeled food snobs can afford the exorbitant prices charged for those attractively displayed baby greens and heirloom tomatoes at farmers' markets, while those who can't afford such greener-than-thou food-purchasing decisions must paw through limp broccoli, wilted lettuce, and tennis-ball tomatoes at supermarket produce departments.
It may come as a surprise that there have been virtually no formal studies to support this widely accepted contention, and the few studies that have been conducted call its veracity into question.
A report released earlier this year by Jake Robert Claro, a graduate student at Bard College's Center for Environmental Policy who did the study for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont, found that prices at farmers' markets for conventionally grown produce items were lower than they were at supermarkets. For organic items, farmers' markets beat grocery stores every time hands down.
"We're starting to see enough competition among vendors at farmers' markets that the prices are becoming competitive," Claro said in an interview.