The Reasons Why We Shop at Farmers Markets Are Bigger Than Local Food

At the local farmers market during late summer, the price is right on ripe heirloom tomatoes, and the quality can be incomparable. So of course a lot of people who love good, fresh produce are going to show up to buy them. But new research from the University of Iowa indicates that when we hand over cash for our local Cherokee Purples, we’re engaged in a lot more than food shopping.

It’s unique for research to combine qualitative and quantitative results. Empirically, we know there were 8,268 farmers markets operating in 2014, up 180 percent since 2006. What’s harder to understand, and what the paper’s coauthors are still reviewing, is why.

“The surprise is that there really are a variety of reasons why people go to the farmers market,” said study coauthor Ion Vasi. Those reasons go beyond the improved freshness and taste of a higher-quality product. In jargon-heavy academia, farmers markets fit into what theorists call “moralized markets.” In common parlance, we might say we’re shopping our values, or, put more politically, voting with our dollar.

Read the entire article at