24 November 2013 – traditional food markets and farmers’ markets – what’s the difference?


Despite the fact that the fresh food on sale on traditional food markets and farmers’ markets in the UK often shares local origins, it tends to be talked about differently by market traders/producers. For example, a producer selling meat on a farmers’ market that I talked to referred to all the meat she was selling as being ‘born at our house’ and emphasised the traditional farming techniques employed by herself and her husband. Her business practice was tied up with maintaining the ‘exclusivity’ of the meat, rather than concentrating on price and volumes sold. The trading practices were different for one of the traditional market traders that I talked to – even though he also farmed, slaughtered and butchered all his own meat – he referred to himself as a butcher rather than a farmer and adopted more business-like language. So although both were selling locally produced meat, their comments reflected a subtle difference – one based on the connection with the farm and the other, on the logistics of running a small, local business.

People shop on markets for different reasons but I think there is a lot of overlap between food systems that we refer to as ‘alternative’ (like farmers’ markets) and ‘traditional’ food systems that have been with us since trading began.


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