Thursday, May 19, 2011

Why Don't More Of Us Shop At Farmers' Markets?

In a recent post on his blog, Politics of the Plate, Barry Estabrook describes a study which found:
"Prices at farmers’ markets were lower for many conventionally produced grocery items than they were at supermarkets. For organic items, farmers’ markets beat grocery stores every time hands down."
- New Study Compares Prices At Farmers’ Markets And Supermarkets. The Results Might Surprise You., Politics of the Plate, May 10, 2011
Barry says the claim that "only well-heeled food snobs" can afford to shop at farmers markets is untrue, that "the few studies that have been conducted call its veracity into question."

The study's lead author:
"It’s promising to see that regardless of the region, these studies are holding up. This trend is going to grow stronger. Maybe that will put the elitist perception to rest."

Regardless of the region...
If it's true that we could save money by buying our food at farmers' markets instead of grocery stores, that the food would be of better quality, organic, local, and taste better, then why don't more people of the Mississippi Delta, where obesity rates are the highest in the nation, shop at farmers' markets?

Maybe they do. This story by NPR correspondant Debbie Elliott who recently visited the area suggests they don't:
"Usually you just couldn't find [fresh fruits and vegetables]. But when you could find them in a local convenience store, the selection and quality of produce was pretty sorry. It turned out that people who really want quality fresh produce must drive 30 to 45 minutes to find a good grocery store."
In one grocery store I visited, sugary drinks were right in the produce case, and were cheaper than buying a bunch of bananas that were starting to turn black."
- What Makes Bad Food So Good? Thoughts On America's Most Obese Region, National Public Radio, May 19, 2011
The video that accompanied the NPR story:

Thanks to Shaun for the NPR story.


Laurie Endicott Thomas said...

'Cause it doesn't start until June. :-)

caulfieldkid said...

Ours starts a week from Friday. Woot!

Angela and Melinda said...

I'm glad to see Estabrook's article! Re the Mississippi Delta, having lived in that are for 20 years, I can attest that almost all the farmland there is in industrial cotton, soybeans, and corn, which may explain the dearth of local produce and farmers' markets.

However, since I moved back to PA in '03, there now are several farmers' markets in Memphis, selling fresh local produce--and this is downtown, not out in the burbs. There also are several CSAs.

More locally (to southeast PA), the city of Chester (generally considered a blighted area) now has both a farmers' market (w/ fresh, local produce) and a whole foods co-op! So things are gradually changing.

Finally, for folks who can't get to places like these or are desperately poor, there's Philabundance, a charitable group that gathers fresh produce & other healthy foods from local farmers, gardeners, etc., & gives it out in Philly to those in need.

Angela and Melinda said...

Our CSA starts this week too (first week of June)! Woot indeed!