In the marketplace, misperception is the enemy. Huh? Take the widely held view that foods offered at farmers’ markets are more costly than those from the supermarket.
Not so, according to a new study by Gorge Grown Food Network. Its research shows that many of the most popular items in the weekly farmers’ market is less expensive than at the local supermarkets.
According to Gorge Grown, past consumer surveys have shown that residents see cost as one of the most significant barriers to buying more local food.
With that in mind, Gorge Grown compared the cost of common fruits and vegetables, both certified organic and conventionally grown, at the Hood River Farmers Market and three area grocery stores.
Several items are actually less expensive at the farmers’ markets. Some of the best market deals included organic apples, carrots, cucumbers, green beans, onions, summer squash and tomatoes. Conventional baguettes and local greens and cheese were also found to be significantly less expensive at the market.
Similar studies conducted across the country support the conclusion that shopping at farmers’ markets isn’t necessarily more expensive. And at this time of year, consumers can often buy storage crops, like squash and onion, in bulk for reduced costs.
One example is the Fill Your Pantry Market on November 5, hosted by the Rockford Grange. Most produce at the market is harvested at peak ripeness, just hours before the market. This means that your purchases will stay fresher for longer, thereby reducing waste and costing less.
In addition to competitive prices, most farmers’ markets offer programs to help make fresh, healthy food even more affordable and accessible. All 10 Gorge area farmers’ markets accept Gorge Grown Veggie Prescription (Rx) Program vouchers and most also accept WIC, FDNP and SNAP (food stamp) benefits.
Most markets even offer a five or ten dollar SNAP match: Local businesses donate funding to match every SNAP dollar spent up to $5 per shopper per market. And this year, kids get $2 to spend on veggies at each market with the POP Club (Power of Produce).
A dollar spent on fresh, locally grown food at a farmers’ market buys more than just groceries. In addition to more nutritious, flavorful, fresh food, that dollar directly benefits family farmers and ranchers, bolsters our local economy, reduces environmental impacts, and preserves historic farmland.
In a media release from Gorge Grown, the group notes that the local economy would keep $9.6 million if local shoppers bought just 20 percent of the fruits, veggies, and meats that they consume from a local farmer.
Recent rains have not washed the farmers markets off the map. The Hood River Farmers’ Market continues on Saturdays until Nov. 19, at 5th and Columbia parking lot from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.