Farmers Markets Grow Wholesome Food and Healthy People

By: Liz Comiskey       Posted On: August 1, 2012

For Immediate Release
Contact: Elizabeth Comiskey
August 6, 2012

Farmers Market Coalition Celebrates Health and Wellness

During National Farmers Market Week

 There is surprising good news amidst rising concerns about the increasing incidence of obesity and associated chronic conditions.  Every day, more communities are converging at farmers markets to begin building healthful relationships with food.

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack proclaimed August 5-11, 2012 as National Farmers Market Week.  Since 2000, the number of recorded farmers markets has grown approximately 170%, from 2,863 markets in 2000 to more than 7,800 in 2012.  Vilsack says “farmers markets across the country offer consumers affordable, convenient, and healthful products sold directly from the farm in their freshest possible state, increasing consumer access to fresh fruits and vegetables and thus promoting child health and potentially reducing childhood obesity.”

As consumers seek more meaningful relationships with their food, with local farms, and with their neighbors, farmers markets are improving community health, and bring diverse groups of people together through a shared social space.  On August 6th, the Farmers Market Coalition, a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening farmers markets, is celebrating nutrition promotion and healthful habits as part of National Farmers Market Week.

An abundance of nutritionally-dense, low-calorie fresh fruits and vegetables is not the only asset farmers markets bring to communities.  Most farmers markets also conduct demonstrations that teach people how to prepare fresh produce at home, and provide them with recipes to take advantage of what’s in season.

  • Preliminary findings from a survey of Baltimore SNAP participants at farmers markets found that less than one-third of low-income market shoppers believed that high quality produce was available and affordable in their neighborhoods outside the market; the majority agreed or strongly agreed that the amount of fruits and vegetables they are able to purchase at the farmers market makes a difference in their or their family’s diet. “As part of our long term efforts to measure SNAP usage at several Baltimore farmer’s markets, we were encouraged that farmers markets are making a difference in families diets,” says Anne Palmer, Program Director for the Center for Livable Future at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. “Increasing fruit and vegetable purchases is a critical means of changing diets and improving health outcomes.”
  • Researchers at East Carolina University found that proximity to farmers markets was associated with lower body mass index (BMI) among North Carolina youth, while density of fast-food and pizza venues was associated with higher BMI.
  • The Hub City Farmers Market in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where only 19% of adults eat five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables daily, instituted a mobile farmers market with three delivery sites, as well as ‘Hub Cycle’ a free bicycle rental program to help encourage biking to and from the market.
  • According to psychologist Robert Sommer, people who shop at farmers markets have four-and-a-half times more social interactions per visit than they would have per visit to a grocery store.
  • About 60% of shoppers at the Crossroads Farmers Market in Takoma Park, MD walk or bike to the market.
  • Over 90% of participants in Wholesome Wave’s Double Value Coupon Program agreed or strongly agreed that the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables that they purchased at the market made a big difference in their or their family’s diet.
  • 92% of farmers markets have vendors that sell fresh fruits and vegetables. In a 2006 survey, market managers reported that 45% of the produce sold at farmers markets is organic, and more than 30% is chemical-free and pesticide-free.

“Farmers markets create a public space for everyone to build relationships: farmer to farmer; farmer to consumer; and neighbor to neighbor,” says Copper Alvarez , Vice President of the Farmers Market Coalition. “We stand in line with one another, exchange ideas about the food we eat, and we are nourished by the relationships as well as the food. Every time we gather at a farmers market, we become part of a unique experience that celebrates the diversity and wellness of our community.”


Seven Days, Seven Ways to Celebrate Farmers Market Impacts

Innovative partnerships that allow markets to serve as hubs of information

Promoting good nutrition and healthful habits

Business incubation, job development, and local spending

Governance and policies that put farmers first

Improving access to healthful foods in underserved neighborhoods  

Growing social capital and engaging volunteers

Supporting agricultural diversity and farm viability, while inspiring a new generation of producers


The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to strengthening farmers markets for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities.

  Learn more at