The Problem with Farmer’s Markets

So, think you’re saving the earth and your arteries by shopping at the ‘ol local farmer’s market? Think again.

A study of farmer’s markets in the Bronx found that they were basically very expensive boutique grocery stores, without many of the benefits of an actual grocery store. More specifically, shopping at a farmer’s market may not actually be that much better for your heath.

Researchers visited twenty-six farmer’s markets and forty-four grocery stores in the Bronx, and found that:

  • Farmer’s markets offered twenty-six fewer fresh produce items than regular grocery stores.
  • 32% of the things sold at farmer’s markets weren’t fresh fruits or vegetables at all, but things like cakes, burgers, jams, and other assorted goodies.
  • The fruits and vegetables at farmer’s markets were more often local and organic (if you had a generous definition of ‘local’, considering there aren’t that many farms in the Bronx), but also tended to be exotic and heirloom varieties of said fruits and vegetables.
  • Farmer’s markets tended to be more expensive on average, even for common produce.

On the good side, farmer’s market produce tended to be fresher. On the bad side, “Farmers’ markets were open overwhelmingly fewer months, days, and hours than nearby stores, and they offered less than half as many varieties of fresh-produce items, and fresh-produce categories, on average.”

So, if you want something tasty, fresher, or local-ish, by all means, hit up a farmer’s market. If, however, you’re trying to eat healthy, save a buck, or have a diverse list of things to buy, just hit up a regular grocery store.



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