Farmers’ Markets’ Market: Rotten or Ripe?

Today for me and Jamey is farmers’ market day. We generally traipse downtown before work, grab some coffee and a ham and cheese croissant while taking in the colors and smells of fresh produce. It’s days like that that inspired to start canning in an attempt to save not only the tastes of these summer days, but the memories too. 

Encouragement from my wife and these twice-weekly visits to the open air markets have even made me think about starting some kind of small scale farm, selling our goods at farmers’ markets and to restaurants around town. (Want to get in the ground level of that? Let’s talk). 

That’s why this article from Grist was encouraging. 

With more public focus on healthier eating, sustainability and generally taking food more seriously, you’d expect farmers markets to sprout widely. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently reported that their numbers have expanded at an astonishing rate—more than 1,000 new farmers markets were recorded this year compared to last year, for a grand total of 7,175.

Yes! Grow farmers’markets grow! More farmers’ markets means more people willing to shell out the cash for good food. Plus, as Grist points out, as any industry expands, it creates jobs, something this terrible economy of ours is desperate for. Good news all around, right?

Well, not quite, maybe. The New York Times, repository and authority of all that is newsworthy, is a total buzz kill over the expansion of farmers’ markets. They cite the same Dept. of Ag stat as Grist. 

Some farmers say small new markets have lured away loyal customers and cut into profits. Other farmers say they must add markets to their weekly rotation to earn the same money they did a few years ago, reducing their time in the field and adding employee hours.

I guess all those new farmers’ markets are kind of a wash. Maybe we should just expand our current farmers’ markets, just sayin. 

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