According to the USDA, there are over 5,270 farmers markets nationwide. The Philadelphia vicinity itself has upwards of 30 farmers markets, many operated by the local non-profit, The Food Trust. Farmers markets not only revitalize communities, they ensure farmers earn fair prices by selling directly to consumers and provide access to fresh, nutritious, and local foods to the public. With the growing interest of ‘locavorism’ and people looking to adopt a more responsible diet for themselves, their family, and the environment, it’s no wonder farmers markets are in the news. Here’s a few articles I found interesting:
- The Wall Street Journal tackles a common dilemma in farmers markets — resellers peddling grower’s produce as their own, hampering market authenticity and threatening the farmer’s share of profits. In fact, the city of Tomah, Wisconsin, is considering banning resellers from its weekly market, and the national non-profit group, The Farmers Market Coalition, is assembling a task force to develop an official definition for farmers markets.
- The LA Times takes an opportunistic look at farmers markets. A few of the ideas presented include: using the space designated for weekend farmers markets as hubs for local businesses during the week; connecting farmers with public transportation stops; and turning stationery markets into mobile delivery trucks to help spread the availability of fresh produce. (In Philly, the Headhouse Market features Renaissance Sausage, an organic sausage food truck, and the Piazza Market’s M&B Farview Farms operates out of a truck that can grill their meats on the spot to eat while you shop.)
- Tom Laskaway at Grist investigates some of the market limitations and advocates to
make farmers markets more sustainable and affordable for all. He notes that an increasing number of farmers markets accept food stamps, and “groups like Wholesome Wave provide ‘coupons’ that then double their buying power.” He also suggests delivery co-ops to local supermarkets and staffing year-round markets to help keep farmers in business.
I enjoy my weekly farmers market visit. Just a few blocks away, every Saturday, rain or shine, I pick up a healthy stash of fresh apples, romaine lettuce, spinach, and some cuts of meat to prepare for the work week. I feel confident and safe in my purchases, knowing that these products were grown with care and without chemicals, and animals were treated humanely and fed a diet that their stomachs can handle. This ultimately settles better in my stomach and my mind. And if you’re concerned with the cost of goods at a farmers market, check out this article for ideas to stretch your dollar.
The White House Task Force just released a comprehensive new report on childhood obesity recommending that farmers markets (and CSAs) be established and promoted in communities to provide access to fruits and vegetables. I look forward to national conversations as the USDA’s Know Your Farmer Know Your Food initiative and the 2012 Farm Bill discussion stimulate additional insights, ideas and solutions (not without controversy, of course), around the local movement for food and sustainable farmland. The Stay tuned…