Sunday, October 12, 2008

We're Starting to Get It

I just read an interesting post on the Food is Love blog.
According to the USDA (admittedly not always the most reliable source of accurate information, but we’ll go with it for the moment), the number of farmers markets in the US has risen significantly in the last ten years, from 2,746 in 1998 to 4,685 in 2008. If we get another 580 markets, an increase possible in the next year or two if trends continue, we’ll have tripled the number of recorded markets since 1994.
Plenty of farmers markets don’t get tallied in official lists, of course. Valereee, over at Cincinnati Locavore, points out that the USDA database only lists a quarter of the markets in her hometown. I see a few missing on the Seattle list as well.
People are slowly starting to get it. We're realizing that the processed food industry does not look out for our best interests. We're realizing that the frailty of modern children as well as our own health problems are due to the outsourcing of agriculture and food preparation. We're realizing that local farms and markets build strong communities.

We're realizing that a return to traditional, wholesome food is the only path to whole health and well-being.

Further reading:
My Real Food manifesto.


Debs said...

Thanks for the link! I do think people are catching on. Among my friends, I've passed on information about things like raw milk, grass-fed butter and meat, and shopping at the farmers market, and those friends have then passed the information on to others. People want to change how they eat and how they buy their food.

Sometimes it seems like the more people wise up to unwholesome ingredients, the more insidiously those ingredients get marketed and hidden where you wouldn't expect them. Of course if your food consists of grass-fed animal fat/meat/bones from a small farm and local, organic produce, it's pretty hard for high fructose corn syrup and cottonseed oil to get slipped in to what you eat.

Food Is Love

Methuselah said...

Hi Stephan - we have recently found a local farm from which we can buy all our animal products - grass-fed, free-range, organic etc, and are spreading the word. Word of mouth can be a powerful driver of change, and with the internet involved I think it becomes even more powerful.

In the UK, big supermarkets are acutely aware of changing customer sentiment, and you can see the trends you describe not just by the increase in farmer's markets, but the increased emphasis on 'local' and 'free-range' in the supermarkets. I think these stores will strategically choose to ride this wave. I wonder whether in time they will themselves be transformed into cooperatives for local producers rather than their current role as peddlers-in-chief for industrialised food production?

Pay Now Live Later

mess talker said...

I wish raw milk was easier to get than cocaine. Not that I have either. But one I really want. As soon as it's gone I want more. The milk, silly.

Dennis Mangan said...

"We're realizing that a return to traditional, wholesome food is the only path to whole health and well-being. "

Either that, or everyone's getting whiter

Stephan Guyenet said...


Great! I've heard the same shift is happening in the UK.

Unknown said...

Whether because of rising costs of oil, devaluation of the dollar, or market speculation, food prices have been rising and the trend is unlikely to reverse anytime soon. My hope is that local food producers who are less enmeshed in the corporate global market will start to outprice supermarkets. If awareness of the importance of nutrition (and concern about rising costs of healthcare) continues to spread, independant stores and farmers markets will become even more competitive.

But big business won't go without a fight. Just recently Monsanto backed a bill that would outlaw rBGH-free labels on milk:

Stephan Guyenet said...


Good point. I'm amazed the farmer's markets are able to compete at all, considering the amount of subsidy money the supermarkets get.

Dave Lull said...

And see for example this story from England in the Sunday Times "The Ray Mears caveman diet".

Anonymous said...

Anecdotal I know, but around this part of the UK we have a significant number of fit active elderly people. We also have a significant population of local shops supplying local food: grass-fed beef and lamb,open air pigs, fresh fish and fresh vegetables and fruit. Oh and cheeses.

A lot of this food bypasses the profit-making of the supermarkets and comes straight from farm to shop. Some doesn't even go that far - there are actual on-farm shops and a farmers' market too.

I'm convinced these events are not unconnected.

The food isn't much more expensive because fewer middle-men are involved and more of the cost goes back to the producer. IMO the effects on health make it significantly cheaper.