Fruitful gains for farmers markets
By Paula Rogo
NEW YORK (Reuters) - More Americans are buying locally grown food and new farmers markets are sprouting throughout the country.
During the past year more than 1,000 markets opened, for a total of 7,175, according to figures released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
And most of the growth is in states other than New York and California, which boast the most fresh food markets.
"The remarkable growth in farmers markets is an excellent indicator of the staying power of local and regional foods," said Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan.
"These outlets provide economic benefits for producers to grow their business and also to communities by providing increased access to fresh fruits and vegetables and other foods."
She attributed the rise in markets to farmers' desire for direct contact with consumers to gain a larger share of the consumer dollar and consumer demand for locally grown food and direct access to farmers.
"Whenever there is a food-borne outbreak, it drives more consumers to farmers markets," said Dianne Eggert, executive director of the Farmer's Market Federation of New York. "They can ask more questions about how their food is produced."
Alaska had the biggest surge in farmers markets at 46 percent with 35 new markets, followed by Texas and Colorado at second and third with a 38 percent increase in farmers markets. Continued...