It’s summer, and one of the best parts is the abundance of fresh, flavorful, produce. I have learned nothing beats a locally grown peach handpicked from a farmer’s bountiful display on a steamy Saturday morning. Not only does produce from the farmers’ market have great flavor, but the freshness is hard to beat. Most produce is picked the day before the market, or just a few days prior. Compare this to produce at the grocery store, which may have been picked a week or two, or even a month ago!
Even better than the flavor and freshness, when purchased during peak season, local produce can be much more affordable at the farmers’ market than the grocery store. For example, last week I bought 3 pounds of cucumbers for only $3.00 at the Rockingham Farmers’ Market in Richmond County! You can’t beat those prices at any grocery store.
Being a farmers’ market shopper is not only good for your health and your budget, but it also helps improve local economy by keeping more money within your community.
One study showed that 17.4 cents of a dollar spent at the grocery store goes to the farmer, while 90 cents of a dollar spent at a farmers’ market goes in the farmers’ pocket. This keeps the money circulating within the local community, instead of leaching it out to large companies based far, far away.
Farmers’ markets also offer a place to socialize, try fun activities, and meet the people growing your food.
Often farmers’ markets host live music or kids activities, and will offer fun, seasonal events. Did you know a person shopping at the farmers’ market will, on average, have 10 times more conversations than if they shopped at the grocery store?!
Even better, many farmers’ markets now offer supplemental benefits to those shopping with their EBT card, such as a dollar for dollar match on fresh foods, or coupons to supplement shopping.
Many markets in NC also accept Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program or WIC Nutrition Program vouchers that are eligible to use on fresh fruits and vegetables. NC State University’s More In My Basket At the Market offers workshops on how to get the most out of your EBT at farmers’ markets. The program is available in select counties. Contact your local Extension office to find out if the program is available near you. You can find your local extension office at https://www.ces.ncsu.edu/local-county-center/.
Shopping at farmers markets is a great way to get affordable fresh foods, and we will be posting a series of blogs to show how to shop like a pro, even on a tight SNAP budget!
Farmers’ Market Coalition. (2016). About Farmers’ Markets (Q&A). Retrieved from https:farmersmarketcoalition.org/education/qanda.
Clary, J. (2011). Vermont Farmers’ Markets and Grocery Stores: A Price Comparison. Retrieved from https://nofavt.org/sites/default/files/uploads/farmersmarkets/nopfa_fm_price_study.pdf.
Flaccavento, A. and Uy N. (2011). Pricing Comparisons at Farmers’ Markets: Understanding Value and Affordability. Retrieved from https://farmersmarketcoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Pricing_webinar_presentation.pdf.
Klavinski, R. (April 2013). 7 Benefits of Eating Local Food. Retrieved from http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/7_benefits_of_eating_local_foods.
Kelly, S. (April 2015). Famers’ Markets Provide Economic and Social Benefits. Retrieved from https://richmond.ces.ncsu.edu/2015/04/farmers-markets-provide-economic-and-social-benefits/.