After reading about the popularity of farmer's markets among MDA readers, I finally decided to check one out for myself. I bought some cherry tomatoes, some blackberries, and some strawberries. I also bought comparable items at the local grocery store just so I could do a direct comparison with the items I bought at the farmers market. Much to my dismay, the strawberries and blackberries I bought at the farmer's market didn't taste nearly as good as the ones I bought from the grocery store. Additionally, they started showing signs of decay within a day even though I refrigerated them as soon as I got home. By comparison, the store-bought blackberries and strawberries didn't show any signs of decay at this point. The tomatoes I bought from the farmers' market tasted about the same as the grocery store tomatoes, but they too began to spoil after only a day, whereas the store-bought tomatoes still looked fine at that point.

The above experience made me realize how little I actually know about how food is grown and ultimately made available to us. Here are some questions I have for anyone who cares to reply:

1. Does food from a farmer's market typically taste much better than the same item from a grocery store, or does it tend to be very hit or miss in your experience?

2. Why did the farmer's market items spoil so much faster than their grocery store counterparts, given that the farmer's food was grown locally while the grocery store produce had to be shipped from CA to TX? Is the grocery store food treated with preservatives or something? If so, then these must also be used on organic fruit and vegetables, as they seem to stay fresh just as long as their conventionally grown counterparts.

3. What is done to make the fruit or vegetables taste better? Did the local farmer just not have access to the same superior seeds and farming methods as the giant berry farms in CA?

Maybe there are far too many variables involved to answer the above questions, but if I at least learn a little bit more about how the whole "food supply chain" works then I'll be satisfied.