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Open Access Research

Farmers’ market use is associated with fruit and vegetable consumption in diverse southern rural communities

Stephanie B Jilcott Pitts1*, Alison Gustafson2, Qiang Wu3, Mariel Leah Mayo4, Rachel K Ward5, Jared T McGuirt6, Ann P Rafferty7, Mandee F Lancaster89, Kelly R Evenson10, Thomas C Keyserling11 and Alice S Ammerman12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, 600 Moye Blvd., Mailstop 660, Lakeside Annex Modular Unit 8, Room 126, Greenville, NC 27834, USA

2 Department of Nutrition and Food Science, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506, USA

3 Department of Biostatistics, 2435D Health Sciences Building, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, USA

4 At the time the manuscript was written: Department of Public Health, East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, 1709 West Sixth St, Greenville, NC 27834, USA

5 Department of Community Health, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN, USA

6 UNC Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, CB# 7426, 1700 MLK Jr. Blvd, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7426, USA

7 Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine, East Carolina University, 600 Moye Blvd., Mailstop 660, Lakeside Annex Modular Unit 8, Greenville, NC 27834, USA

8 Center for Survey Research, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, USA

9 Director, Center for Survey Research, Office of Innovation and Economic Development, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC 27834, USA

10 Department of Epidemiology, 137 East Franklin Street Suite 306, Chapel Hill, NC 27514, USA

11 Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, USA

12 Department of Nutrition, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Director, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB# 7426, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7426, USA

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Nutrition Journal 2014, 13:1  doi:10.1186/1475-2891-13-1

Published: 9 January 2014

Abstract

Background

While farmers’ markets are a potential strategy to increase access to fruits and vegetables in rural areas, more information is needed regarding use of farmers’ markets among rural residents. Thus, this study’s purpose was to examine (1) socio-demographic characteristics of participants; (2) barriers and facilitators to farmers’ market shopping in southern rural communities; and (3) associations between farmers’ market use with fruit and vegetable consumption and body mass index (BMI).

Methods

Cross-sectional surveys were conducted with a purposive sample of farmers’ market customers and a representative sample of primary household food shoppers in eastern North Carolina (NC) and the Appalachian region of Kentucky (KY). Customers were interviewed using an intercept survey instrument at farmers’ markets. Representative samples of primary food shoppers were identified via random digit dial (RDD) cellular phone and landline methods in counties that had at least one farmers’ market. All questionnaires assessed socio-demographic characteristics, food shopping patterns, barriers to and facilitators of farmers’ market shopping, fruit and vegetable consumption and self-reported height and weight. The main outcome measures were fruit and vegetable consumption and BMI. Descriptive statistics were used to examine socio-demographic characteristics, food shopping patterns, and barriers and facilitators to farmers’ market shopping. Linear regression analyses were used to examine associations between farmers’ market use with fruit and vegetable consumption and BMI, controlling for age, race, education, and gender.

Results

Among farmers’ market customers, 44% and 55% (NC and KY customers, respectively) reported shopping at a farmers’ market at least weekly, compared to 16% and 18% of NC and KY RDD respondents. Frequently reported barriers to farmers’ market shopping were market days and hours, “only come when I need something”, extreme weather, and market location. Among the KY farmers’ market customers and NC and KY RDD respondents, fruit and vegetable consumption was positively associated with use of farmers’ markets. There were no associations between use of farmers’ markets and BMI.

Conclusions

Fruit and vegetable consumption was associated with farmers’ market shopping. Thus, farmers’ markets may be a viable method to increase population-level produce consumption.

Keywords:
Farmers’ market; Fruit and vegetable consumption; Rural communities; Obesity; Random digit dial