August 27, 2018

Farmers markets offer bargains on fresh produce, survey says

Compared to grocery store prices, fresh produce is usually less expensive when purchased directly from Massachusetts farms, according to new survey results.

The Massachusetts Food System Collaborative released its survey Monday and it is based on prices at 11 farmers markets and 22 grocery stories, all within five miles of the nearest farmers market. Farmers market prices were more affordable in most cases, the collaborative reported, with the statewide average price of a basket of 14 common items costing 25 percent less.

For instance, cucumbers were $1.29 at a farmers market in Worcester, and $1.50 at a nearby grocery store. Cauliflower that was $.69 at the Cambridge market was $2.43 at the store. Tomatoes at the Lee market were 90 cents a pound, but $2.29 in the grocery store. Peaches could be purchased at the Springfield market for 49 cents a pound, but were $1.75 at the store.

"The impression that fruits and vegetables sold at farmers markets are more expensive than produce that has been grown elsewhere and shipped to grocery stores is often a myth," collaborative director Winton Pitcoff said in a statement. "During the growing season Massachusetts farmers have fresh produce at very competitive prices."

The collaborative said the prices are "despite the fact that Massachusetts farmers have some of the highest land and energy costs in the nation."

The project surveyed markets in Northampton, Greenfield, Springfield, Lee, Shelburne, Somerville, Cambridge, Lynn, Worcester, and Boston in July and August 2018

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