Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Too many farmers markets?

Just as Massachusetts celebrates Farmers Market Week come fears that there are too many markets.

Writing from Western Mass. for the New York Times, Katie Zezima reports that in some parts of the country farmers complain of a glut of markets.

Some farmers say small new markets have lured away loyal customers and cut into profits. Other farmers say they must add markets to their weekly rotation to earn the same money they did a few years ago, reducing their time in the field and adding employee hours.

Economic thinking suggest that if the supply of these markets really does exceed demand, some will succeed and others will not until equilibrium is restored. But what will that mean to the farmer--and the consumer?

The markets are fun, but at the end of the day they are about getting fresh local produce. If the demand for fresh food is great enough, and the demands of staffing markets burdensome enough, perhaps farmers will prefer to deal with local grocers, who will (again perhaps) discover the virtues of meeting the demand for food from local farms.

Imagine being able to walk down the block and buy fresh apples from your favorite orchard.

Perhaps there is a role for the middleman after all.

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