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Can You Afford Farmers’ Markets?

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
August 26, 2015        
Released by:  Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton, & Morrison Counties

Source:   Ryan Pesch, Community Economics Educator
U of M Extension Regional Office, Moorhead


Can You Afford Farmers’ Markets?
Released by Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension
Source: Ryan Pesch, Community Economics Educator, U of M Extension Regional Office, Moorhead

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (8/26/15) — Summer is nearly winding down, but Minnesota vegetable and fruit growers are busy harvesting their crops. The time is now to shop your farmers markets for locally grown food.  Often, those who don’t shop use the excuse that it is more expensive than shopping your grocery store, but is that really true?  Continue to reading this article by Ryan Pesch, Community Economics Educator from the University of Minnesota Extension, to find out.

A study examining the prices of produce found that the average price for a market basket of commonly-purchased vegetables during peak growing season costs less at farmers markets in West Central, Minnesota than at regional grocery stores. In fact, the average price at farmers markets was $12.85 while the price at regional grocery stores was $14.33.

The team of researchers included staff and students from the University of Minnesota Extension and the University of Minnesota Morris’ Center for Small Towns. The team collected price data for nine popular vegetables at seven farmers markets in West Central Minnesota, as well as six mainline grocery stores and two natural food stores during peak growing season in July and August of 2014.  The market basket consisted of one pound each of all nine vegetables.

“We wanted to help clear up mixed messages the public gets with regard to the cost of local foods,” said Ryan Pesch, study leader. “Some believe these are expensive alternatives while others go looking for bargains.”

The average farmers’ market price for cucumbers, green peppers, onions, string beans, summer squash, and sweet corn was less than the average grocery store price per pound, although only the difference between summer squash and zucchini were statistically significant. The average grocery store price was less than the average farmers’ market price for cabbage and tomatoes, with cabbage having the highest difference.

“Our goal was to inform the growing number of local foods producers who want to remain competitive,” said Pesch. “Of course, prices and availability rely on seasonality. Our local and regional grocery stores are still a mainstay of commerce and are critical to year-round choices for food.”

The full study can be found at

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