America Isn’t Buying Its Food at Farmer’s Markets, It’s Doing it at Walmart

You may think that all the talk of eating local and shopping at farmers market is making a shift in the grocery buying arena, but if you do, you may want to take a step back and look at the big picture. While your friends, family and local community may be making a bigger effort to shop at smaller scale markets or specialty stores, the reality is that most people aren’t getting their groceries at the same place. In fact, they’re not even going to grocery stores. They’re going to Walmart, Target and beyond.

A new study shows that it’s not the places selling organic quinoa and Swiss chard that are getting the grocery business, it’s big box stores, convenience stores and even pharmacies. King Retail Solutions partnered up with University of Arizona’s Terry J. Lundgren Center for Retailing and surveyed 1,200 shoppers, from milennials to baby boomers, and found that 70% of them bought groceries from non-grocers in 2013.

Target and Walmart topped the list, but then came Walgreens and CVS. Farmer’s markets and food stalls came in seventh place, with a very small percentage in comparison to the big names at the top of the list.

Think about these types of stores and the first thing that comes to mind isn’t normally fresh produce; these are places that are known for processed and packaged foods. Certainly, places like Walmart do sell produce — in fact, it has committed to doubling its sale of locally grown produce by 2015 — but its popularity only adds to the industrialization of our food system.

Some may argue that because of prices, these types of stores attract people with a smaller food budget. Not so. As it turns out, “the wealthier the shopper, the more likely he or she is to procure groceries from Target, Walmart or another of these non-grocers,” according to Forbes.

What are the effects of such shopping behaviors?

For one, it affects farmers. As Grist reported in 2011, ”Between 1990 and 2009, the farmers’ share of each dollar consumers spent on pork fell from 45 to 25 cents, according to the USDA Economic Research Service. Pork processors picked up some of the difference, but the bulk of the gains went to Walmart and other supermarket chains, which are now pocketing 61 cents of each pork dollar, up from 45 cents in 1990.”

Then there’s the question of health. While these stores may offer produce options, they are also right next to all of the processed, package options that we as a society need to avoid. It’s hard to avoid temptation, and temptation gets us eating food products instead of real food.

Are grocery stores and markets doomed? Maybe. Once again, it comes down to voting with our forks.

Photo Credit: lyzadanger


Jim Ven
Jim Ven11 months ago

thanks for the article.

Brad Hunter
Brad H3 years ago


Sarah Hill
Sarah Hill3 years ago

Most people shop where it's affordable and convenient. Not everyone has the ability to shop at farmers markets, etc. I try to support local businesses, but in this economy I have to look out for my own finances.

Melania Padilla
Melania Padilla3 years ago

This is just very, very wrong.

Jane R.
Jane R3 years ago

How do you think some of the wealthy got that way? They shop where the price is cheaper. They are penny pinchers.
The people on welfare and food stamps don't care how much something costs because they are getting it almost free so they shop where ever they want to. I've seen them buy meat that I could never afford.
Not everyone lives near a farmers market and even if they do they'll pay more for their produce than if they bought it at a Walmart or Target store. We all try to get the most for out money even if t's not the freshest.
So don't put down the people who shop where they can get the most for their money.

Geoff P.
Geoff P3 years ago

Finances do dictate where we shop.

Meta Reid
Meta Reid3 years ago

I've heard that when WalMart buys local produce that the farmer only gets a share if it's sold and that they have to pick up the rest that isn't sold. It's not good for the farmer - they get pretty much ripped off. I'm unsure about all this but it'd be good to question the local farmers and WalMart about their policy before buying.

Karen F.
Karen F3 years ago

I have a local "fruit and vegetable stand" near where I live and I go there to shop. There is an Aldi's near me, too, where I can save lots of money buying "the basics" and only a small amount of my shopping is done at my local supermarket due to inflated prices. I avoid, as much as I can, shopping for anything at Walmart. I consider myself lucky that I can "shop around" though... there are many people who do not have the time required for that nor the nearby store choices that I have. We all just do the best we can and for time taxed people, doing all their shopping in one place is the only way they can consider shopping at all. Unfortunate but true.

Mona E.
Mona E3 years ago

Sonali G., "things going out of date rapidly" is a sign that they are alive. Of course when things are sprayed and treated with God knows what, they look fresh for a longer period. Only by then, you're just eating an empty look-nice food, that is not doing you any good. And that's why illnesses spread at an ever growing pace. Our bodies starve althought our plates are (too) full.

Sonali G.
Sonali G3 years ago

Here where I live, local business is rubbish. Local produce is sometimes double a supermarkets price and going out of date rapidly. Locals are often rude and not worthy of my hard earned money. Perhaps if I lived in a city, there would be better competition and more choice. Meanwhile I will just have to stick to choosing value for money over the locals. Sorry