Locavore Cost Comparison: Locally Grown vs Supermarket Organic

Cary, NC – Story and photographs by Kaynan Goldberg. Kaynan is CaryCitizen’s 12-year-old columnist on all locally grown foods that are frugal, crunchy, healthy and green. She blogs at VeggiesGoCrunch.

In this installment of Locavore, Kaynan takes a question from her baby brother and turns it into a larger consideration of the costs of fresh vegetables at the local farmers market vs supermarket organic. Infographic of her findings at the bottom of the story.

Go Farmer?

No, that isn’t some hesitant farmers’ market cheer – it’s what my baby brother says every Saturday, before we go to the market.  He walks up holding his little sneakers in his pudgy baby hands, looks up at my mom with his big, blue eyes, and asks, “Go farmer?”

Camera and Calculator in Hand

Last week, after the farmers’ market, I went outside and took pictures of the produce we had bought for our family of six.  I put the veggies in a big basket to take a couple pictures, and then played with the camera – one of my favorite things to do.

Then I started wondering – do we save money by shopping locally, or do we just like the benefits of market-fresh food?  My mom and I went to our all-natural grocery store (I won’t name names here) to compare the prices.

  • 2 pints of local strawberries: $7.00 – Market price
  • 2 pints of certified organic strawberries: $6.98 – Store price

  • 2 local red peppers (1.5 lb. total): $3.75 – Market price
  • 2 organic red peppers (1.5 lb. total): $7.48 – Store price

  • One local yellow pepper (~1/2 lb.): $1.25 – Market price
  • One organic yellow pepper (1/2 lb.): $2.99 – Store price

  • Two heads of local lettuce: $4.00 – Market price
  • 2 bags (they didn’t have fresh heads of lettuce at the store) of organic lettuce: $4.98 – Store price

  • One bunch of radishes from the market: $1.50 – Market price
  • One bunch of organic radishes from CA: $2.49 – Store price
  • Oh, and the broccoli hiding under the radishes: $4.00 – Market price
  • Organic broccoli from California: $7.00 – Store price

  • 1 bunch of six small beets (plus greens!) from the market: $2.00 – Market price
  • 6 loose beets from CA (no greens): $1.99 – Store price

  • 2 1/2 lb. of local squash and zucchini: $3.75 – Market price
  • 2 1/2 lb. of organic squash and zucchini: $7.49 – Store price

Market total: $27.25
Store total: $41.40

Cost Comparison

It costs almost fifteen dollars more to buy all these veggies (yes, I know that strawberries are fruits, but cut me some slack) at the grocery store, and don’t even get me started on food miles.

Sure, the veggies from the store are certified organic, but I’ve been to the local farms and I know they’re pesticide-free. So I’ll keep my fifteen dollars, thank you.  I have a movie I want to go see.

One basket of farm-fresh veggies: Priceless.  :D