Farmer’s Markets vs. Grocery Stores: Where should I do my shopping?

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Recently, there has been a big push to shop local and to eat farm to table, and for a good reason. Eating fresh produce does wonders for your taste buds, you can be confident in their quality standards, and you know that you are supporting a local farm. The downside is that it can be a little bit pricer and less convenient than what our busy lives allow. How do you choose where to buy food? Let’s break down why you might want to shop at a farmer’s market versus a grocery store:

Farmer’s Markets

Time of year matters: Farmer’s markets are different from chain grocery stores in that they typically are only available part of the year. That’s because fresh produce is not harvested locally throughout the year. Because of this, farmer’s markets are in their peak from late spring to late fall. During those few months, you’ll find fresh produce from everything that you would typically buy at the grocery store, like tomatoes, corn, eggplant, onions, peppers, apples, and strawberries. You can’t beat the taste of “just picked.” It’s in season and bursting with flavor. Plus, you’ll be putting money back into the local economy and helping support a local neighbor and farm.

Consider your budget: It’s possible that you may end up paying a few cents more on some of the produce compared to that at the grocery store, but you may also save a few cents on other items. It all depends on the supply and demand in the local market. Overall, you need to assess what’s more important to you: freshness, taste, and supporting the local farmer, or saving a few more dollars at the checkout. It’s understandable if you are on a budget, so find the items that are cheaper for you to buy at the farmer’s market, and go to town.

Tip: Farmer’s markets don’t just have produce; they often also have vendors that sell soaps, jewelry, and other goods. If you’re looking for a unique or handmade gift item, search here first.

Grocery Stores

Wide Range of Products: Grocery stores are excellent for the prepacked things that you can’t get from farmer’s markets, like tortilla chips, crackers, tea, and sodas. Buy your non-produce items from the grocery store, like packaged snacks and other non perishables to fill the pantry. You need a good mix of everything to have a well-balanced diet.

Convenience: Generally speaking, grocery stores cater to the buyer more so than farmer’s markets. Chain stores like Wegman’s, Giant, and Acme have regular sales and weekly specials that make it convenient and sensible for those on a budget. Nowadays, supermarkets carry everything you may need for a one-stop-shop experience. They have shampoo, cleaning supplies, food, office supplies, clothes, and even pet supplies. It’s hard to pass on convenience.

Make an effort to visit the local farmer’s market at least once a month to get seasonal fresh fruits and veggies from your local area. If you’re able to go more often, then that is fantastic, but it’s understandable that not everyone has the time or the money to spend traveling to the farmer’s market. Go with friends and family to make a day out of walking through the market to make the experience even more enjoyable. Summer months are the best time to skip the grocery store and shop for fresh produce at your local farmer’s market.

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