In most parts of the country, produce at the local farmers' market has a reputation for quality, freshness and a hefty price tag. For many consumers, locally grown fruits and vegetables can be a serious splurge in comparison to their grocery store counterparts. But why is it that a crop grown down the road costs more than one flown in from afar?
A recent article from The Washington Post takes an in-depth look at this issue, and the complicated cost chain associated with locally produced food. When comparing the cost of common groceries from a local store versus the farmer's market, the difference in price is staggering. For a haul including "cage-free eggs, cheese, mushrooms, salad mix, and both organic and conventional strawberries," the Kroger grocery store cost came in at $31.37, compared to $64.62 at the local market in Richmond, Virginia.
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In Richmond, a quart of organic strawberries at the market costs an average of $6.50, whereas organic berries distributed by Driscoll's—the United State's largest supplier of berries, with more than 40,000 employees—costs around $3.59 a quart in-store. While the Driscoll's berries had to be picked, packaged, and kept constantly refrigerated while being transported thousands of miles, their cost was still significantly less than the berries grown near-by. In order to uncover the reason behind this price divide, the Washington Post article zeroes in on the growth and distribution of one kind of produce in particular: strawberries.