Local News

Save money and still shop organic at the farmers market

Posted May 28, 2009 6:33 p.m. EDT
Updated May 28, 2009 7:19 p.m. EDT

— When money is tight, the dinner table often turns to what is cheap and fast. Sometimes that means skimping on nutrition, but it doesn't have to be that way. Buying organic, healthy and fresh-from-the-local-farm food often costs the same, or is less expensive, than what is at the grocery store.

"A lot of our prices are actually cheaper than the grocery stores," said Karen Sieber, Moore Square Farmers Market manager.

WRAL compare prices from the Moore Square farmers market, at the intersection of Blount and Martin streets, with area grocery stores. A mixed bag of organic, locally-grown spring salad from the farmers market cost $4, but Whole Foods' organic salad was $5.98-lb, almost $2 more. Mixed greens at Wal-Mart beat the farmers market by just a quarter at $3.78, but it was non-organic.

Farmers and Moore Square shoppers say fresher and chemical-free is worth a quarter.

“Yeah, because I would say I never throw anything out that I buy at the farmers market. It lasts longer, and tastes better,” farmers market shopper Janet Wathey said.

But even farmers admit, buying fresh, local and organic can sometimes cause sticker shock. However, with any shopping, you have to do your homework, and know what is in season.

"So in two or three weeks, you'll be able to find somebody selling early squash and it will be expensive. In six weeks, you'll find everybody at the Farmers Market selling squash, and it will be a lot cheaper,” said Richard Holcomb, with Coon Rock Farm.

When you see something cheap, stock up since farmers usually discount the price when you buy in bulk.

“We see a lot of people canning and buying in bulk, and to freeze even, like corn in the mid-summers is great for freezing,” Sieber said.

Also, don't be afraid to negotiate. These aren't only the sellers, these are the farmers.

"You know, there's nobody on eBay turning nobs trying to decide what the price of a head of lettuce ought to be, this is what I want for it and the customer says, 'I'll give you something else, okay or no,'"

Plus, you will often enjoy free music and sunshine at the farmers market.