New research conducted by Griffith University (McKinnis and Wilkinson) shows that farmers’ markets have played a vital role in fostering trust and community connections in our now Covid-era. The survey by two nutrition and dietetics students was conducted at Murwillumbah and Mullumbimby Farmers’ Markets (NSW) and highlights several major benefits of farmers’ markets, including the alleviation of feelings of Covid-19 induced isolation and loneliness.
NSW farmers’ markets were classified as an essential food service by state government under Covid. The Northern Rivers region shoppers reported that they wanted to buy local healthy produce and felt safer shopping in the fresh air. They trust and want to support regional farmers, the local economy and sustainable farming. But the greatest benefit was social connection.
There are many other reasons why farmers markets are an essential necessity in communities during this pandemic.
Farmers Markets offer nutritionally dense foods
Food available at farmers markets are more densely nutritious than large industrialised sources, this is highly studied and documented. It’s widely believed that immune responses are best served by the intake of fresh fruits, vegetables and fungi that are harvested and eaten at the peak of freshness. These kinds of foods are offered at farmers markets, not at big box stores.
Shortened supply chain
A shortened supply chain means food passes through fewer hands. On its way to the retail shelf, food is typically handled by somebody in a warehouse, loading and unloading, placing products on the shelf, other customers’ hands who pick up and put down products, then finally passed through the hands of the cashier. Compare this to the farmers market where the farmer picks the food, packages it, brings it to market and hands it to the end consumer. Less hands mean less opportunities to pass germs along.
Farmers markets are highly adaptable environments
Farmers Markets have the benefit of implementing quick and swift changes in policy making them highly adaptable environments. Additionally, each product at the market is individually manned, unlike in a grocery store where the public arte able to shop unsupervised in a self-served environment. A farmers market can implement policies that would control who touches the food.
Shopping in the open air is healthier
Shopping in the open air is healthier. Markets are held in outdoor spaces with fresh air and direct sunlight, where as Grocery stores are in confined spaces using recycled air systems. The air flow and the natural UV spectrum light found at outdoor markets are medically less hospitable to viruses.
Research conducted by Griffith University (McKinnis and Wilkinson)
“Farmers markets are essential!”, of “Tent Talk” – a podcast by Farmers Market Pros. April 12, 2020 episode