A new study has found that more Americans than ever before are supporting their local food markets. Freshness and flavour is only part of the reason.
These so-called ‘locavores’ are turning to farmers markets and joining food coops because they enjoy knowing who grows their food and they want to belong to a larger community that shares their values – such as a passion for a healthy lifestyle and a sustainable environment.
According to the University of Iowa study, people who support the local food movement tend to regard it as an act to preserve their local economy against the threats of globalisation like big-box stores.
“It’s not just about the economical exchange; it’s a relational and ideological exchange as well,” says Ion Vasi, an associate at the UI and author of the study.
In response to globalisation, a number of communities supported investing in locally owned businesses instead of outside companies in an effort to gain control of their own economies, wrote the researchers.
The study also found that local food markets – whether farmers markets, food coops, or otherwise – were more likely to develop in areas where residents had a strong commitment to civic participation, health, and the environment. These tended to be in cities and counties with higher education levels, higher income levels and more institutions of higher education.
“Sociologists and political scientists have argued that higher income allows people to make consumption decisions based on values in addition to matters of price or value,” says co-author Sara Rynes.