If you frequent farmers' markets, you might want to rethink your habits. Two geography professors at San Diego State University penned a chapter in a new anthology arguing that "insidious" farmers' markets are havens for white spaces and drive out long-term residents — sometimes minorities.
What are they claiming?
The Routledge anthology, "Just Green Enough," features the musings of SDSU professors Pascale Joassart-Marcelli and Fernando J. Bosco, who believe that the "whiteness of farmers' markets" contributes to "environmental gentrification" wherein "environmental improvements" are a catalyst in displacing long-term, indigenous residents.
According to Campus Reform, Joassart-Marcelli and Bosco argued that farmers' markets in urban areas are also exclusionary, because oftentimes, many residents cannot afford the food and "feel excluded from these new spaces."
The duo also alleged that 44 percent of San Diego area farmers' markets cater to "households from higher socio-economic backgrounds," which, in turn, helps to increase property values and effectively "[displaces] low-income residents and people of color."
Describing farmers' markets as "white spaces where the food consumption habits of white people are normalized," Joassart-Marcelli and Bosco added that "alternatives food initiatives" — such as farmers' markets — work against community activism:
The most insidious part of this gentrification process is that alternative food initiatives work against the community activists and residents who first mobilized to fight environmental injustices and provide these amenities but have significantly less political and economic clout than developers and real estate professionals.
Campus Reform reported that the academics did not offer any solutions on how to combat what they refer to as "environmental gentrification," and did not respond to the outlet's request for comment prior to publication.
The duo did admit that putting a stop to gentrification is a "vexing task" that requires "strong community involvement."
"Ultimately," Joassart-Marcelli and Bosco concluded, cracking down on gentrification requires both "slow and inclusive steps" to "balance new initiatives and neighborhood stability to make cities 'just green enough.'"