This summer, I’m continuing my quest to understand the food environment in Manhattan, NY. Two food studies students – Siobhan Wallace and Leanne Brown – are working with me to catalog the availability of food (including prices) in the farmers markets in Manhattan. We are visiting the markets at three intervals over the course of this season (end of June/early July, August, end of September/early October). So I have been spending a fair amount of time out of the office, visiting markets and collecting data. I am lagging behind Leanne, who has already finished her markets for the end of June/early July. My work of the past few weeks has given rise to the following thoughts:
- Some markets are really small – 1, 2, or 3 vendors. I wonder how these markets survive. Perhaps these markets serve to raise awareness about local food and farms??
- Some markets are hard to get to, and are located in unexpected places. I wonder what kind of foot traffic these markets receive.
- There are vendors that are at almost every market (Millport Dairy, for example) and some that are only at 1 market.
- Markets in NYC have special challenges, and one is where to park the truck that transports the food. Yesterday I went to the Tucker Square market (near Lincoln Center), and there was no space to park. I wonder how the vendors cope with parking.
- The products include fresh fruit and vegetables, but there are tons of value added products. Today I talked to a pickle vendor, who had a stand at the Metropolitan market.
I haven’t yet finished visiting markets, so I can’t speak with certainty, but so far, it seems to me that most of the markets are located in parts of Manhattan with adequate food access. I am curious to see how product availability (in terms of numbers of products, breadth of offerings, and prices) varies over the course of the season, and whether availability varies by income and the number of food stores in the different neighborhoods.