Chronicling the Local Food Economy: One Woman’s Mission to Source Most of Her Food from Farmers Markets

Reader Contribution by Claire Huttlinger
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Here in the Northeast, this summer’s fresh food markets have sprung up all over. Like the local people, the markets are emerging from inside malls, schools, and senior centers. Others have been entirely dormant since October — also like some locals. We are hungry for fresh food.

As much as we love organic food, want to live sustainably and lose the chemicals, stop scorching the earth and polluting the wáter, and as much as we want to see lots of small family farms, the reality does not conform to our wishes. According to a recent survey reported by, each year U.S. farms are fewer in number and, on average, farms are increasingly mammoth is size. Ever fewer corporations rake in the profits, but actual Farm work continues to be stressful and underpaid. Worse still are the products of industrial farming: inferior food, animal mistreatment, and environmental damage.

Despite our efforts, it turns out we are not really consuming much of the pricey organic food we buy.  The Guardian (April 2018), informs us that the typical American drops a pound of food a day in the garbage, and the healthy-fresh-organic produce consumers toss more than their share. As we spend more on organics, we drain our resources, and in the end, we turn to the supermarket anyway.

Supporting a Shift to Small-Farm Agriculture

With this blog series, I hope to address the question How do we, the consumers, turn the tide to favor small farms?

As for me, I am no expert, and that’s the point: I am a schoolteacher, raised in suburbia and transplanted to the country. This summer, I plan to find out just how much I really need the supermarket, and what it would take to for a whole lot of us to modify our habits just enough to build a solid local food/small farm food supply.

This is no radically new idea for a blog. As a matter of fact, many locavores love to write, and many writers love food. Barbara Kingsolver notably led her family through a year of hard-core local eating and wrote about it in Animal, Miracle, Vegetable: A Year of Food Life, and several more authors have written wonderful books about eating and producing local food. Most of them have credentials I don’t: They are restauranteurs, farmers, scientists, and economists. I am none of those, and that is my angle.

Chronicling Local Food Economy at Farmers Markets

A new, local food economy should fit into the life of a busy person who only thinks about food when her stomach growls, who doesn’t have time to figure out where her fish was raised or which products are genetically modified.

Each week this summer, and biweekly through the winter, I will explore the fresh food markets of New England and thrive on their goods. Each blog entry will feature a different market and insights on how to make farmers markets central to our sustenance instead of a pricey excursion.  I will focus on New England, but I will be traveling and researching to gather a general picture of how the growth in farmers markets  actually affects our food supply.

And please, I hope to hear from others about what works, or doesnt, around the country.

Claire Huttlingeris a local food systems enthusiast who explores how to source quality food nearly exclusively from farmer’s markets. She is a cancer survivor who is passionate about accessible, quality healthcare, and a strong community. Connect with Claire at, and read all of her MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.

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