With the push to shop local to save fuel, eat healthier, and save money, many people turn to their local farmers’ market. But, is it worth it? Let’s look at a few myths and get to the truth about shopping at farmers’ markets.
Myth #1: Farmers’ Markets Are Too Expensive
The truth is, studies show that farmers’ markets are about the same price as grocery stores when you’re talking about conventionally-grown produce. But, when you get into organic, farmers’ markets win all the time and are less expensive. Plus, you can count on the produce at the market being fresher, which means it will last longer once you get it home.
Myth #2: Only Rich People Can Shop at Farmers’ Markets
Most farmers’ markets today still let you use SNAP benefits if you need them. So, you won’t miss out on anything if you choose to shop at a farmers’ market instead of the grocery.
If your farmers’ market isn’t set up for that yet, you can contact your local representatives to try to get this passed. Some markets even match your benefits up to a limited amount between $5 and $10 so your benefits will go even further.
Myth #3: Everything at a Farmers’ Market Is Organic
This is not true. But one thing that is true is that some food is organic even if it’s not sold as organic. It costs a lot of money to be able to state that your produce is organic, so some farmers don’t get the organic certification necessary to do this. Yet their food is organic. Ask the farmers yourself and get to know them and their practices before you buy.
The truth is, most conventional practices aren’t as bad as you may think, and some organic practices aren’t as good as you think. Knowing where your food is coming from is helpful.
Myth #4: Farmers’ Markets Are Seasonal
This is true. But each area has its own seasons and some areas that are warmer have farmers’ markets all year long. You’ll have to find out what’s available in your area. Some areas even have greenhouse growth and inside stores for their farmers’ markets. You just have to find out what’s available.
The thing to remember about seasonal produce is that it’s going to be fresher, cause less damage to the environment due to it not having to be shipped across the country, and it helps provide jobs locally. It’s good all the way around.
Myth #5: You Can Shop with a List
While making a list is helpful for saving money and meal planning, if you’re going to use farmers’ markets for part of your grocery shopping you need to make your list after you find out what’s at the market.
What you do is set a budget for produce, then buy what they have at the market. Take that home and put it away and then make a list for the rest of the ingredients so that you can use the seasonal produce that you have bought.
Myth #6: Funny-Looking Produce Is Bad
Nothing could be further from the truth. When you go to a farmers’ market, you may notice that some of the produce isn’t the prettiest. They are what is known as seconds. This is great because that’s how you’ll save money. The flavor will be amazing in that funnily-shaped tomato, so it won’t matter at all.
If you want to shop at farmers’ markets and make it worth it, go in understanding that you’re helping support your local economy, you're getting the freshest food possible, and by eating seasonally you’re going to be healthier than ever.