The Role of a Local Farmers’ Market Organization in Mitigating the Problems Associated with Food Deserts: A Case Study of the Fair Haven Neighborhood in New Haven, Connecticut

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Amity Doolittle
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Diet-related diseases, such as obesity and type 2 diabetes, are leading causes of disability and premature death in the United States. Studies have demonstrated that residents of neighborhoods characterized as “food deserts," areas in which affordable, good-quality fresh food is scarce, have poorer diets and more negative health outcomes than residents of other neighborhoods. Farmers’ markets are commonly promoted as a means of improving diet and health outcomes in food deserts. However, individuals experience many barriers to healthy eating and participation in farmers’ markets, especially among low-income, minority groups. This paper aims to answer the following question: What role does a local farmers’ market organization play in mitigating the problems associated with food deserts? To answer this question, this paper examines how a farmers’ market organization in New Haven, Connecticut works to address barriers to healthy eating and farmers’ market participation in Fair Haven, a low-income, predominantly Latino neighborhood. Using interviews with community residents, market attendees, market vendors, and farmers’ market organization staff, this paper discusses how the organization’s successes and challenges underscore the inherently limited role of farmers’ markets as a solution to the diet and health problems associated with food deserts.