Just where does local food live? Assessing farmers' markets in the United States

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Participation in the local food movement has grown dramatically in the United States, with the farmers' market being one of its most widespread and heavily promoted forums. Proponents argue that the interactions and transactions that occur at farmers' markets benefit market participants, but, more importantly, have broader benefits for the neighborhoods they are located in and for society itself. The promise of these benefits raises several important questions, notably: where are farmers' markets located and who has access to them? While many works have examined the characteristics of individuals who frequent markets, few have examined the areas and inhabitants hosting these markets. Using data from the USDA and US Census, I explore the location of farmers' markets areas across several geographic measurements, including at the national, census division, and census tract levels. Results reveal the following: (1) Perhaps not being as white of a movement as critics have suggested, farmers' markets are almost exclusively a middle to middle-upper class phenomenon; and (2) Farmers' markets are very unlikely to be found in neighborhoods with lower than average socio-economic statuses indicators, in specific divisions of the US, and in rural areas. Results from this research further illuminate our understanding of where farmers' markets are located throughout United States while presenting some interesting questions for the local food movement as it continues to moves forward.


Agriculture and Human Values





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