The headline in my newspaper reads, “Demand feeds big growth of farmers markets in the U.S.” It is a headline that brings smiles for those of us who want to see more people zigzagging between the white canopy tents, toting canvas bags of bulging local, seasonal and fresh food.
According to a USDA report, the number of farmers market has increased — reflecting a positive shift in our collective relationship with food. The farmers market offers a venue to support farmers and other food producers who are committed to sustainable agriculture, and the preservation of soil and water. And the farmers market model organically reduces food waste naturally built into the grocery store distribution model.
However, change is slow. The raw numbers suggest that California leads the pack in farmers market totals followed by New York and Massachusetts. But when you look at per capita numbers the order is flipped, with California the largest producer of food trailing far behind New York. The numbers are as follows:
There are 45,577 people to every 1 farmers market in California.
There are 30,085 people to every 1 farmers market in New York.
There are 21,046 people to every 1 farmers market in Massachusetts.
This is in contrast to the number of fast food outlets in the United States:
There is 1 fast food restaurant for every 623 people.
A growth in farmers markets is to be celebrated but let’s be reminded that we have a long road ahead.
Read my past farmers market post.