Supporting local is worth the extra penny

By Sam Brannan, Trulia

Farmers markets are more than a marketplace – they’re an age-old tradition for local residents, farmers and artisans to celebrate community and healthy living. With more and more earth-conscious, and local-minded thinkers throughout the country, markets like the Athens Farmers Market are more popular than ever. But even with growing support for locally grown food, a big deterrent for frugal shoppers is the misconception of homegrown meat and produce being overpriced.

Making a connection with those who grow your food, and supporting sustainable agriculture is what sets farmer’s markets apart from the large food retailers – what shouldn’t set them apart is a product’s price. The illusion of overpaying exists because similar products are sold for what seems like a better value at grocery stores. While the price is generally cheaper at retailers, the products aren’t necessarily comparable.

This misunderstanding of value comes into play by discounting the quality and quantity of products. Food straight from the farm is worth more because of its freshness and nutrients that you cannot find at the neighborhood outlet. You're also getting more than you would at the grocery store, often in quantity as well as in quality.

There’s a lot that goes into price consideration for vendors and “it’s complicated,” as Food 52 describes the pricing methods. With factors ranging from non-standardized prices or units of measurement, to paying workers a living wage, some local farmers need to bump prices or lower prices for a particular product. This is why you’ll find varying prices from vendor to vendor at a farmer’s market.

Aside from more bang for your buck, dollars spent at a farmer’s market stretch further than shopping at name-brand food retailers. Here are some of the many positives of buying locally:

Improving the local economy: By purchasing from local growers and artisans, you’re stabilizing the local economy through the support of local businesses.

Preserving natural resources: Buying locally, and cutting out the middleman contributes greatly to saving resources such as fossil fuels and packaging materials.

Support a declining industry: With a decreasing number of small farms in the United States, every dollar goes spent preserve an honest and worthy means of making a living.

Spreading knowledge: Locally grown supporters help educate communities about the importance of buying locally and sustainable farming.

To get a better idea of why customers are so loyal at the Athens Farmers Market, and what keeps customers coming back, we reached out directly to the vendors. See what they had to say below:

“I believe the customers at AFM are both loyal to individual growers and to the whole market in general. Some customers will buy all their produce at our stand, if we have it available, others just some and say they want to spread their market dollars to many vendors. Others that I see weekly will buy very little. As with many other things in life we all have our favorites.  I do believe that most of the regular customers know that AFM is an exceptional farmers market and a great asset to the community and all local foodies, and as a result support the market to keep it thriving.” – Ed Janosik of Sundance Farms

“It is rare that a customer comes up and doesn't ask about the bees, beekeeping, honey or any number of other related questions. When they walk away they are confident that the honey they've gotten was produced by a conscientious beekeeper and careful honey producer. The same is true for every other vendor. Our customers quickly discover that we are not in the business of mass producing a product but bring to the market the same things we feed our families. Where else can anyone find that?” – Dan Harris of Booger Hill Farms

“We don't bring ordinary blueberries, we bring extraordinary berries and our customers know this.”  Rhonda Luther of Rhonda's Blueberries

Are you a local in Athens, Georgia? Among many reasons to come out and support local vendors, the Athens Farmers Market is a fun activity for all ages. Where else can you buy fresh local meats and produce, enjoy live music, and chow down on delicious prepared food? With convenient locations in Bishop Park and Creature Comforts, there’s easy access for residents all over Athens.