The “local foods” issue continues to gain traction. As one indicator, the US Dept. of Agriculture says the number of winter farmers markets (defined as being open at least once between November and March) rose 38% from 2010 to 2011, on the heels of a 17% increase the previous year. Many of these markets are in northern states, with growers extending their seasons using tools such as hoop houses.
- USDA press release,  Dec. 15, 2011; full tally of winter markets ; searchable Web site for all farmers markets.  Media contact, Gwen Sparks,  202-260-8210.
The top 10 states for winter farmers markets are:
- New York
- North Carolina
These markets can provide a hook for addressing a wide range of local agricultural issues, including local foods, family-owned vs. corporate enterprises, validity of claims about being family-owned and/or local, food inspections, quality control, state, FDA and USDA regulations, immigration, unemployment, and career changes.