Farmers Markets & New Technology

Farmers markets have existed for thousands of years, so the concept of “buying local” is not something all that new. Yet in the last 40 years, the internet and online technologies have played an increasingly significant role in our daily lives, especially when it comes to food shopping. The ability to order online and to receive it in a matter of minutes – whether it is a delivery food service for your dinner or groceries – has drastically changed the way we think about feeding ourselves and our families. We all know that technology can be our best friend and our enemy on the same day. This is a blessing for some consumers in that they have easy, quick access to food, and a curse for some small producers, as they may not have that same access to the technology to get their produce into the agri-food system.  In some ways, as the agri-food system embraces technology, so should the local food movement. 

In order to move forward, we have to look back to imagine what’s ahead – embracing both the old and the new.  Some potential opportunities for integrating technology might include: building online platforms for direct-selling producers, communicating producers’ stories through social media, and creating space for knowledge sharing through online panels or in the comments of a blog post.  One of the WFMC members, Matilda Ho, Founder and Managing Director of Bits x Bites, created China’s first online farmers’ market, Yimishiji, a platform that weaves transparency and education into their model. Their goal is to build a closer relationship between the consumer and producer, utilizing technology to make it easier for both stakeholders. Recently, FAO highlighted the value of digital technologies for smallholder farms in Senegal – as smart phone applications have allowed for farmers to not only check the weather and the market prices for produce, but also to learn new farming practices, such as advice on livestock management through an application – check out that podcast here. Like most things in life, there is no single answer for how to move forward, but many answers layered on top of one another – old traditions mixed with new technologies. The path forward falls somewhere within the old and new. 

by Christina Ermilio

Photo Credit:

1. Photo by mk. s on Unsplash

2. Photo byDaniele Taffon

by Christina Ermilio

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