Jane Black reported yesterday at the All We Can Eat section of The Washington Post Online that, “The number of farmers markets jumped 16 percent in 2010, according to figures to be released [today] by Department of Agriculture. There are 6,132 farmers markets in operation, up from 5,247 in 2009 [related graph].
“The National Farmers Market Directory reported the greatest surges in the Midwest. Missouri saw the number of markets skyrocket 77 percent; Minnesota’s growth was 61 percent; Idaho and Michigan each saw a 60 percent jump. Locally, Virginia counted 152 markets, up 28 percent from 118 in 2009. Maryland has 107, up 18 percent from 91 in 2009. The District had 28 markets in 2010, a 12 percent increase from 25 in 2009.
“There are 886 farmers market open during the off-season. This is the first year the USDA has tracked winter markets.”
The update stated that, “Growing interest in farmers markets is driven by consumer concerns about food safety and a renewed focus on healthful eating;” but added that, “Not everyone agrees, however, that the growth in farmers markets is proof of strong local food systems. Researchers at Franklin and Marshall College’s Local Economy recently released a study that suggested that it is largely wealthier urbanites who benefit from farmers markets.”