James McWilliams, author of the new book with the Northfield-oriented title Just Food: Where Locavores Get It Wrong and How We Can Truly Eat Responsibly, has a guest post on the NY Times Freakonomics blog titled Do Farmers’ Markets Really Strengthen Local Communities? It got me thinking. And wondering whether his argument could be applied to locally owned retail stores. (continued)
Milling around the farmers’ market with like-minded foodies, buying fresh produce grown on nearby small farms, listening to local musicians play local songs, and supporting a variety of homegrown artisans certainly qualifies as an enriching community experience. But can we say with any assurance beyond anecdotal evidence that the thousands of farmers’ markets established over the last twenty years have brought together communities across the United States? If so, how? And for whom?