As the weather heats up, farmer’s market season comes into full bloom. Studies have shown that people can save money buying directly from farmers. Jerry Cosgrove, who has dedicated his life to helping small farmers, encourages everyone to shop at farmer’s markets.
June 4, 2012
People have known for years that buying produce in season helps reduces the price considerably. Buying directly from a farmer at a farmer’s market lets people purchase in season, locally grown food. But for some reason, a misconception has arisen.
Jerry Cosgrove, an advocate for farmers and farmland, hopes to correct this misconception. Through his work helping out local farms, he has learned that the prices offered at farmer’s markets are often considerably lower than the prices at supermarkets. This rule is particularly true in the case of organic vegetables and fruits.
Jerry Cosgrove also agrees with nutritionist Joan Salge Blake. According to Blake, buying locally grown food reduces the environmental cost as well. Purchasing out of season berries from South America means that the produce needs to travel thousands of miles just to reach a customer’s plate.
Cosgrove also notes that the personal touch of a farmer’s market allows people to stretch their food dollar even further. While people cannot negotiate with large supermarkets, there is room for haggling at the farmer’s market. For example, if a person goes to the market near the end of the day, the farmer may offer two for one deals or may slash the price of certain fruits and veggies. Some farmers offer “seconds,” or slightly bruised or small produce, for a reduced price.
The first visit to a farmer’s market is sometimes described as intimidating. Cosgrove recommends that shoppers take a few minutes to browse the market before they begin purchasing food. Browsing allows consumers to see the different prices offered by farmers and the entire selection of the market.
The USDA recently launched a program that makes it easier for shoppers to find a market. The “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” program features a website where shoppers can find markets based on their zip code.
A life-long farmer and agricultural advocate, Jerry Cosgrove received his BS in agriculture from Cornell University. He then went on to earn a law degree from Cornell Law School. Since his school years, Cosgrove has worked as a lawyer as a well as the director for American Farmland Trust. His current project is working with the New World Foundation as the Associate Director of the Local Economies Project.