I stumbled upon this fascinating article about one reason low-income families are still not shopping in large numbers at farmer’s markets. Access is, of course, one issue. If you don’t have transportation or a farmer’s market near you, you are probably not going to go searching for one. But, as access to fresh fruits and vegetables in low-income areas increases, farmer’s markets are still not seeing the turnout they expected. Why?
This article addresses the issues of education and awareness of not only what you can find at farmer’s markets, but also how to pay for it. Many markets have vendors now who accept SNAP food assistance, but it seems that many consumers don’t realize that or understand how it works.
HERE is the link to the article itself. An interesting point of discussion. At my farmer’s market runs this weekend, I am going to ask the vendors I use whether they accept SNAP and how it works for them.
In my area, I think a lot of older people understand how to cook fresh vegetables. North Carolina has always been an agricultural state and most people I meet over the age of 50 grew up either on farms or near their family farms. Most worked on farms. Hard work, for sure. It’s the younger people who I think need education of a different kind. They need to learn how to cook.
Nothing against microwave ovens (they are helpful), but the proliferation of microwaves and processed frozen foods have left us with at least one (and probably two) generations who have absolutely no idea how to cook from scratch. When you have no idea how to cook fresh food, you either don’t buy it or you buy it and it rots in your refrigerator because it seems like too much work.
In the 1930s, 40s and 50s, County Cooperative Extension offices around North Carolina had home demonstration agents who traveled to rural and urban areas around the state teaching women how to create balanced meals and how to can and preserve food safely. Now, some of these programs were condescending and a little misguided, especially in the South. But we need this kind of intentional effort now, offered in a more user-friendly way, to reach out to young people and young families!
Do you see efforts in your area to increase education about how to use farmer’s markets? Efforts to improve cooking knowledge? Inquiring minds want to know. Share!