Farmers market or grocery store? That is the question

By Valencia

MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCIV) - As farmers markets sprout across the Lowcountry, it's hard not to taste what the hype is about. But, is the cost of fresh produce the best bang for your buck?

Robert Fields has been farming for 50 years. Field says he keeps his customer in mind when setting his prices.

"The way we price, we try to be under the store, under the store price and we try to be fair to the people," Fields said.

ABC News 4 did a side-by-side comparison of select produce prices. Here's what we found:

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Farmers Market{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} Grocery Store

Asparagus {}{}{}{}{} $3.99{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} $2.99

Collards{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} $3{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} $3

Strawberries{}{}{} $4/qt{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{} $3.99/lb

On average, produce costs about the same at the farmers market as it{}does at grocery store; with the exception of a few items, which were more expensive.

"You know, it actually surprises me," Registered Dietitian Laura Nance said.{} "Typically locally grown because it has less to travel, less energy costs, less gasoline costs, less labor costs should be less expensive. But, for folks who are in question, I would say, the fruit or vegetable that you enjoy and you can guarantee that a local farmer grew it would definitely be worth the extra cost."

Despite the inconsistent cost, Nance says you have to consider the quality of what you are buying.

"Typically, the less time between the picking to the plate for consumption, the better nutrition quality you have, the better taste, the better texture you have of the vegetable or fruit," said Nance.

Not only that, but freshly picked produce will likely last longer in the fridge than grocery store produce will.

"Usually, the most nutrition out of a vegetable is just after it's been picked. And, of course as time goes on you start to lose some nutrition," said Nance. "Probably the second best choice, other than fresh, would be frozen because typically those vegetables are picked then flash frozen pretty immediately, which preserves a lot of nutrition, quality and texture of the produce."