The Number of U.S. Farmers Markets Has Nearly Doubled in the Last Five Years

Good news for kale and the people who love it.

Fresh produce does the body good.
National Journal
Marina Koren
April 29, 2014, 8:10 a.m.

Find­ing or­gan­ic, loc­ally sourced, non-ge­net­ic­ally mod­i­fied but­ter­nut squash is get­ting easi­er.

In the last five years, the num­ber of farm­ers mar­kets across the coun­try has nearly doubled, from 4,685 in 2008 to 8,144 in 2013, ac­cord­ing to the Ag­ri­cul­ture De­part­ment. In 1994, there were only about 1,755 farm­ers mar­kets in the United States.

The loc­al food sec­tor is boom­ing:

Farm to table? More like farm to face.

Between 1992 and 2007, dir­ect sales between U.S. farms and con­sumers tripled, grow­ing twice as fast as total ag­ri­cul­tur­al sales. A na­tion­al sur­vey re­cently found that people lis­ted “loc­ally grown or pro­duced” as the fourth-most im­port­ant factor in­flu­en­cing their food shop­ping, be­hind “good for my heart,” “min­im­ally pro­cessed,” and “that con­tain only in­gredi­ents I re­cog­nize.” And for­get about the ste­reo­typ­ic­al, open-air spring­time farm­ers’ mar­ket: Winter mar­kets are a thing, too.

Later this week, the Ag­ri­cul­ture De­part­ment will re­lease data from the 2012 ag­ri­cul­ture census. If this up­ward trend is any in­dic­a­tion, the num­bers for the loc­al food sec­tor are go­ing to be good. But some say the ex­plos­ive growth may already be lev­el­ing off. Between 2012 and 2013, the num­ber of farm­ers mar­kets in­creased by just 3.6 per­cent, com­pared with a 17 per­cent jump between 2010 and 2011.

Cor­rec­tion: This story has been up­dated to cla­ri­fy the change in the num­ber of farm­ers mar­kets since 2008.

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