A recent CNN article, "estimated sales at farmers markets rose from $888 million in 2000 to $1 billion in 2005, according to a 2006 USDA survey. There are now more than 4,300 markets nationwide -- an 18 percent increase from 1994 through 2006 -- where local farmers sell directly to the public the fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, dairy and baked goods they have grown, raised, caught and made." The article goes on to say that September was the month to pledge the 100-mile diet.
This news makes me really miss my CSA. Since I relocated this summer from Boston to Boulder, CO, I didn't join my favorite (oh, OK, only) Boston area CSA, Brookwood Community Farm. The farmer at Brookwood, Farmer Judy, grew the most fabulous varieties of tomatoes, beans, and greens, and even prepared a washed field greens mix weekly for her customers. Last year, as a CSA member, I found myself trying new recipes and freezing a lot of food just to keep up with the weekly harvest box. This ensured that I was eating locally not just during the harvest season, but also during the winter when some of those meals made their way onto my family's table.
I am fortunate that Boulder also has an excellent farmer's market, but I think it falls into the "more expensive than Whole Foods" category. Luckily the Whole Foods in Boulder has done a fantastic job featuring local foods, so that shoppers can easily buy locally made products if they want to. I guess the difference is that at the grocery store I buy for the week, rather than buying extra while local foods are in season (and cheaper). I look forward to joining a new CSA next year, and planting a garden of my own, so that I am forced to "put food by" for another day. I can freeze, pickle, and can my way into local foods all year long.