Organic for everyone? Access to sustainable, locally grown produce at farmers markets in New Jersey

Ethan D. Schoolman, David L. Tulloch, Franklin R. Halprin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The market for local food has grown considerably over the course of thirty years. At the same time, even robust local food systems may reproduce injustices that have long marred corporatized food systems. In this paper, we explore the relationship of environmental justice to local food systems by asking two questions. First, are farmers markets (FMs) more likely to be found in wealthier, whiter communities? Second, are FMs providing people who are not members of socially privileged groups with an opportunity to buy food grown in accordance with organic principles? Drawing on survey data from FMs in New Jersey, we find that, although community demographics are strongly associated with FM location, social privilege is not associated with where organic farmers sell produce, once the lens of analysis is narrowed to just communities with an FM. But although food grown without agricultural chemicals is widely available at FMs in the study area, organic farmers who accept payment via WIC or SNAP are not more likely to sell at FMs in lower-income communities, and fewer organic farmers than non-organic farmers accept payment via WIC or SNAP. The presence of organic farmers at FMs in a wide range of communities suggests that expanding access to locally sourced fruits and vegetables may be able to play a small but not insignificant role in reducing exposure to agricultural chemicals. However, organic food would be more accessible at FMs in low-income communities if more organic farmers participated in nutrition assistance programmes like WIC and SNAP.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)135-156
Number of pages22
JournalLocal Environment
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


  • Local food
  • environmental justice
  • farmers market
  • nutrition assistance
  • organic food


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