This is an exciting piece on the explosion of farmers markets, but I must confess that based on my own knowledge, I find the data to be less than precise. The USDA list of markets is not checked for accuracy and as it is up to market organizers to list and to de-list their own markets, most estimations believe that the list is far from accurate, even though the USDA does everything within its (limited) time to make it right. Even the definition of what can be listed as a market is loose; this may seem like nitpicking (after all more “markets” is good news isn’t it?) but since we know how the capacity of markets remains low partly because of low support among funders and policy makers, the lack of clarity may hurt chances to expand well-managed farmers markets or public markets that support local entrepreneurs.
What is also true is that many retail operations masquerade as farmers markets without directly supporting farmers or managing those involved in direct sales; regular operation, transparent governance and some direct sales for regional producers should at least be the minimum to being listed on this list. Don’t get me wrong; I like the idea of auxiliary and ancillary food initiatives that get regional food into more communities being listed somewhere and to be tied to efforts at flagship or sister market organizations, but we should get better at describing each of them with their own type so we can allow more to flourish.
The Crunchy Cities Index – Buy Local by I Support Farmers Markets.