There is a widely held belief that farmers markets are more expensive than supermarkets, and for some things, they probably are. Speciality, small batch produce can sometimes cost more – and for good reason (but that’s a whole other story).
When it comes to fresh fruit and vegetables though, is there really that much of a difference in price? After recently noticing quite a large disparity in price between bananas at the supermarket, which were retailing for more than double the cost of farmers market bananas we decided to take a closer look, comparing the prices of fruits and vegetables at the farmers market with the same or comparable produce at the two closest major supermarkets at Mullumbimby and Ocean Shores.
Of the 15 items we compared from the first supermarket, nine were cheaper at the farmers market, three were the same price, and three items were more expensive. The biggest difference in price were the bananas ($7.50 per kilo for Lady Fingers at the supermarket and $3.00 per kilo at the farmers market), capsicum ($9.90 a kilo supermarket/$5.90 farmers market), and sweet corn ($1.50 each supermarket/3 for $2 farmers market). Other items that were cheaper at the farmers market were potatoes ($3.50 supermarket/$2.50 farmers market), sweet potato ($5 supermarket/$3.80 farmers market), kale ($4.50 supermarket/$3.50 farmers market) and silverbeet ($5.50 supermarket/$4.50 farmers market). Items that were more expensive at the farmers market were beans $10 supermarket/$10.90 farmers market), bok choy $2.50 supermarket/$3 farmers market) and cucumbers ($3.50 on special at the supermarket/5.90 farmers market).
When we compared prices from the second supermarket, the results were almost exactly the same. Three items were more expensive the market, some were the same price, but most were cheaper.
Of course, this is only a small sample, but it was an interesting experiment with a result that would come as a surprise to many. We suspect the summer of droughts and floods may have something to do with the high prices at the supermarket, but this only reinforces the argument that we need to continue to strengthen local food security by supporting local farmers.
There’s no better time than now to do your weekly fresh produce shop at your local farmers market. The produce is fresher, which means it tastes better and is better for you, you’ll be supporting local farmers to make a living and keep their farms running, and you’ll be saving money and boosting the local economy as the money you spend will stay in your local community.