Farmers’ Markets on the Rise!

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If you shop at your local farmers' market, give yourself a pat on the back! Farmers' markets have seen a remarkable growth spurt over the last few years.

Kim O'Donnel discussed the good news in a recent article for EcocentricBlog.org:

The worst drought since the 1950s continues to wreak havoc on America’s bread basket, shriveling up commodity corn and soybean crops and driving up food prices. But there is heartening news from the local agricultural sector: Farmers’ markets are booming.

Last week, the USDA released its annual update of the National Farmers Market Directory, which is now 7,864 markets strong. It’s a 9.6 percent uptick since last year, and more than double the number of markets since 2004.

The latest tally was announced in preparation of National Farmers Market Week, which started Sunday and has been formally acknowledged by the US Agriculture Secretary since 1996.  As stated in a proclamation signed by Secretary Tom Vilsack, one of the goals of the week-long commemoration is “to further awareness … of the many contributions farmers make to daily life in America…” (Festivities continue through August 11.)

In addition to California (which far surpasses any other state with 827 markets), New York, Massachusetts, Michigan and Wisconsin are the five most farmers’ market-centric states. The mid-Atlantic region (Delaware, DC, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, New Jersey and Pennsylvania) has experienced the most growth – a combined 15.8 percent increase of markets since last year.

Over the years, farmers’ markets have been criticized for being exclusive dens of foodie-dom, but access is changing, albeit slowly.  As of last year, less than one-fourth of all farmers’ markets were equipped with wireless EBT technology to redeem SNAP/food stamp vouchers. A $4 million USDA grant issued in May aims to make more markets SNAP voucher-friendly.

Click here to read the rest of the article at EcocentricBlog.org!

This article originally appeared at EcocentricBlog.org. It is partially posted here with permission from the author.

Kim O’Donnel is a trained chef, nationally recognized online food personality and longtime journalist. She is also the author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook and the forthcoming Meat Lover’s Holiday Table, and the founder of Canning Across America. (from Ecocentric Blog)

Photo Credit: Craig McCord