"Is there a difference in health and taste between buying fruits and veggies from the local farmers at the [farmers'] market versus buying organic fruits and veggies from stores like Whole Foods?We all make decisions when it comes to what we eat. For me, the goal is to avoid pesticides, hormones, antibiotics and synthetic ingredients in my food. Thus, for fruits and vegetables, organic is paramount. Sure, a little flavor and nutrition may sometimes be lost in shipping and storage (especially of delicate items), but sidestepping pesticides is of utmost personal importance.
"Personally, I often find that the fruits bought locally taste a bit better than the organic counterparts shipped from the west coast or sometimes other countries. Even those that are not freshly picked but stored (like pears and apples)."
That being said, since I eat with the seasons, most of what I purchase is organic and local. (I'll never buy berries in January from South America.) Whole Foods does a very good job of highlighting in-season local foods, but they do have to make a profit, so selling asparagus in the winter is not unheard of.
Personally, I find that the less-perishable organic items (i.e. apples, cherries, bananas) taste fine even when shipped long distances.
Again, how we decide to eat is a very, very personal decision.