The Economic Multiplier of Choosing Farmers’ Markets First

Your Choice Matters – Farmers’ Markets First!

Shopping at farmers’ markets supports the health and wellbeing of you, your local economy, environmental and community.

When you shop your local markets, you are not only taking care of you but of the local economy that you exist in; shopping at markets promotes small businesses and has many benefits for your local community. For example, most farmers and producers receive less than 15% of what the consumer spends at grocery stores, restaurants, and other places people get their food. But, farmers’ markets are different; by cutting out the middleman and selling directly to the consumer (through farmers’ markets, CSA’s, or farm stands), farmers’ get to take home 95-98% of income earned. For example, take for instance the graphic below, which denotes exactly where your dollar goes when you purchase food. Based off of this, what would happen if we chose to prioritize #farmersmarketsfirst ?

(Image retrieved from here)

Also, when you choose to spend your money locally, it multiplies – literally! Take for example the graphic below shared from the Ecology Center of Berkeley, which looks at the social return on dollars spent at the farmers’ market! While this is in particular to the use of SNAP funds at farmers’ markets, it is clear that money spent locally, stays local.

(Image retrieved from here)

It is clear that shifting even 10% of your food budget will provide exponential growth opportunities for your local economy! In contrast, when you only shop through conventional methods, such as grocery stores, it is averaged out that farmers only get 7.8 cents on the dollar.

Finally, one other way that shopping the farmers’ market first impacts the economy is that it encourages environmentally sound farming and distribution practices. By keeping food local, the people that own and work at the farms you support are invested in the long-term wellbeing of your community and local economy.

The biggest way that shopping your farmers’ market first impacts the economy through environmentally sound choices is that it drastically reduces the miles your food has to travel. On average, food travels over 1,000 miles from the point of production to the retail store; when compared with a farmers’ market, the majority of the food travels less than 50 miles (Weber & Matthews 2008). The below visual just highlights some of the ways that the time and distance your food travels impacts the local economy and ecosystem.

(Image retrieved from here)

While this has been a small overview, it is clear that our food choices matter and when we choose to shop farmers’ markets first, we are impacting our health, our local economy, and the ecosystem in which we exist.

Bringing it down to a local level, when considering farmers’ markets and the impact shopping at markets has, it is important to reflect on how important the usage of CalFresh benefits is to our community! On average, the government estimates that every dollar of CalFresh money spent in our region generates $1.79 in total community spending (USDA 2018). Represented in the graph below is the amount of CalFresh and Market Match distributed from January through June of 2020 through the farmers’ markets that are a part of Farmers’ Market LIFE. This represents $138,009 in Total Community Spending because of the usage of CalFresh and Market Match Incentives at our markets.

(Internal Data – More Information Available Upon Request)

For those that would like to dig deeper, listed below are some excellent resources for further examining the economic impact that shopping your local market has:

Where Do Americans’ Food Dollars Go?

Farmers’ Markets Promote Sustainability

Market Match Impact Report

Price Spreads and Food Markets

Why Farmers Only Get 7.8 Cents of Every Dollar Americans Spend on Food

Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States

Works Cited:

USDA. (2018). Fiscal Year 2018 Year End Summary. Retrieved from

Weber, C. L., & Matthews, H. S. (2008). Food-Miles and the Relative Climate Impacts of Food Choices in the United States. Environmental Science & Technology, 42(10), 3508–3513.

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