Farmers markets and food-borne illness

Marc Bellemare, Ngoc Jenny Nguyen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Using longitudinal administrative data on all U.S. states and the District of Columbia for the years 2004, 2006, and 2008-2013, we study the relationship between farmers markets and food-borne illness. We find a positive relationship between the number of farmers markets per million individuals and the number per million of reported (i) total outbreaks and cases of food-borne illness, (ii) outbreaks and cases of norovirus, and (iii) outbreaks of campylobacter in the average state-year. Our estimates indicate that doubling the number of farmers markets in the average state-year would be associated with 2.6 additional outbreaks of food-borne illness, 0.8 additional outbreaks of norovirus, and 0.3 additional outbreaks of campylobacter permillion, as well as with 34.5 additional total cases of food-borne illness, 22.9 additional cases of norovirus, and 1.5 additional cases of campylobacter per million in the same state-year. Our core results are robust to different specifications as well as to deleting outliers and leverage points.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)676-690
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Agricultural Economics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 1 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
*The authors thank JunJie Wu and three anonymous reviewers for comments that significantly improved this article. They thank the University of Minnesota’s Healthy Foods, Healthy Lives Institute for financial support. They are also grateful to Ed Ragland from the USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service for sharing the farmers markets data, to Rob King for extensive comments on earlier versions of this paper, to Jayson Lusk for his generous help clarifying the question of reverse causality via his monthly FooDs survey, as well as to Yanghao Wang for his help collecting additional data. They also thank Tim Beatty, Francisco Diez-Gonzalez, Joe Ritter, and Dawn Thilmany as well as seminar participants at Cornell University, the University of Georgia, Ohio State University, and Oklahoma State University and conference participants at the 2015 International Conference of Agricultural Economists in Milan for comments and suggestions which led to a substantially improved manuscript. Finally, the authors are grateful to those readers who took time to write with constructive criticism in response to the January 2016 New York Times Gray Matter column that discussed preliminary results for this article. All remaining errors are their own. †Corresponding author, associate professor, Department of Applied Economics and Director, Center for International Food and Agricultural Policy, University of Minnesota, 1994 Buford Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55108, Email: ‡Former MS student, Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota, 1994 Buford Avenue, Saint Paul, MN 55108, Email:

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2018.


  • Farmers Markets
  • Food Safety
  • Food-Borne Illness


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