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.