Health Concerns Amid Covid-19 Make Farmer’s Markets More Difficult and More Important

Shoppers wearing protective masks walk through the Historic Downtown Farmers Market during the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Los Angeles, California, U.S., April 5, 2020. REUTERS/Kyle Grillot

                During the current pandemic caused by Covid-19, public health concerns are on everyone’s mind. While contracting the virus is the number one worry, staying healthy while attending school remotely or working from home is another issue to consider. The tendency to overeat out of boredom or eating unhealthy fast food, as well as, limited access to healthy options has made this a difficult time for our diet and nutrition. According to a study by the International Food Information Council’s (IFIC) 2020 Food and Health Survey, one-in-three said they are snacking more, and a quarter said they are thinking about food more than usual (Danley, 2020). Quarantines meant to prevent the spread of the virus, have many people confined to their homes and immediate surroundings. This can result in more limited access to healthy food options. Many areas are already considered food deserts and the pandemic has only made it more difficult for some to find healthy and affordable food options. I wondered what might be a viable option and whether that idea would be safe and appropriate during the pandemic?

Farmer’s Markets

After some consideration, I concluded that farmer’s markets could help increase the access to these foods in areas where food choice is limited and provide a safe alternative to grocery stores and large chain markets. After many businesses and services were restricted due to viral spread concerns, some areas are realizing how vital these markets can be in vulnerable communities. New York city, one of the hardest hit cities early in the pandemic, opened farmer’s markets in every borough to provide food while following extra precautions. San Francisco and Maryland are also areas where open air markets are frequently the only reliable source of food in low-income areas (Love & Storring, 2020). Some of the precautions that should be considered during the pandemic at farmer’s markets include:

  • Blocking your exposure to the virus (wear a mask)
  • Choose pre-bagged produce when available to limit direct contact with items
  • Consider the market set-up (social distancing, proper handwashing and overall cleanliness)
  • Get what you need and leave.

Safer Shopping

The characteristics of farmer’s markets might actually also make them safer than grocery stores during these difficult times. Early in the pandemic farmer’s markets were lumped in with parades and public parties but later states like California changed their minds. California declared that the state’s farmers markets were “essential to the functioning of our state” and said they “must continue,” (Linnekin, 2020). While large gatherings are discouraged, open air markets allow for better social distancing than grocery stores and shorten the supply chain resulting in less people having direct contact with the food before the consumer (Love & Storring, 2020). Farmer’s markets are helping provide food during this tough time but more work needs to be done.

Let’s Create A more Inclusive Space!

In the article, “If They Only Knew: Color Blindness and Universalism in California Alternative Food Institutions” by Julie Guthman, she brings up an important point that needs to be addressed to allow farmer’s markets to be a more effective alternate food source during Covid-19 and beyond. Farmer’s markets and community supported agriculture historically are frequented by upper-income white Americans that rarely have food insecurity concerns. A more inclusive atmosphere must be created by raising awareness and opening discussions on how these food systems often exclude low-income minorities (Guthman, 2008). These are the very people who commonly need the increased access to healthier foods and inclusive farmer’s markets might be one answer to easing their growing food insecurity concerns.

References

Danley, S. (2020, 6 12). Eight in Ten Consumers Changed Their Eating Habits Due To Covid-19. Retrieved from Food Business News: https://www.foodbusinessnews.net/articles/16226-eight-in-ten-consumers-changed-their-eating-habits-due-to-covid-19

Guthman, J. (2008). If They Only Knew: Color Blindness and Universalism in California Alternative Food Institutions. The Professional Geographer 60(3), 387-397.

Linnekin, B. (2020, May). Shuttering Farmers Markets Over COVID-19 Is Stupid, Dangerous, and Counterproductive. Retrieved from Reason: https://reason.com/2020/03/21/shuttering-farmers-markets-over-covid-19-is-stupid-dangerous-and-counterproductive/

Love, H., & Storring, N. (2020, April). Farmers markets are vital during COVID-19, but they need more support. Retrieved from THE AVENUE: https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2020/04/08/farmers-markets-are-vital-during-covid-19-but-they-need-more-support/

3 thoughts on “Health Concerns Amid Covid-19 Make Farmer’s Markets More Difficult and More Important

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/outdoor-farmers-markets.html

    The link above is also speaking about outdoor farmers markets directly from the CDC. The article itself is very easy reading and understandable and not overwhelming. it speaks about how the implementation of outdoor farmers markets in the boroughs are low risk shopping options and allow for fresh food to be bough with a lower risk of contact. while this link also explains the different health department directories to check on your local and state offices to check for yourself making this a sort of interactive addition to this brilliant blog post.

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  2. https://texasfarmersmarket.org/how-to-shop-the-farmers-market-during-covid-19/

    I discovered this website after I had read your blog post about safely shopping at a Farmer’s Market during COVID-19 times, and I felt like it was very informative and helpful for everyone who gets their fresh produce from farmer’s markets, but are hesitant to go since they are worried about crowds. The Texas Farmer’s Market has similar tips as the Utah Farmer’s Market picture you included in your post. However, on the Texas Farmer’s Market website, they also point out that it is a lot busier in the first couple hours when the farmer’s market opens, so it would be better for customers to go later on in the day when there are not as many people around them when they shop. They also recommend only sending one family member from your household to go to the farmer’s market to purchase produce since it is not the time for family outings, which I think is a very good point!

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  3. This blog article is amazing, so many great point how farmers markets are much more safer than regular grocery stores and provide better food options the community. Farmers markets are usually in open space I read this from Peen State article about farmers markets having minimal risk of contracting COVID-19 on site. The article explains why these markets are safer because of open space and the enforcement of social distancing. It also provides instruction for farmers participating in farmers markets how to maintain a safe stand. Some of these instructions include keeping a clear space, disinfecting supply on hand for customers and employees, have credit card options for transactions, and offer pre package items. Here is a link to the article.

    https://extension.psu.edu/minimizing-coronavirus-at-markets

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