JOURNAL ARTICLE
REVIEW

Systematic Review of Factors Influencing Farmers' Market Use Overall and among Low-Income Populations

Darcy A Freedman, Nicole Vaudrin, Christine Schneider, Erika Trapl, Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, Morgan Taggart, M Ariel Cascio, Colleen Walsh, Susan Flocke
Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2016, 116 (7): 1136-55
27021526

BACKGROUND: Recent evidence indicates a widening gap in fruit and vegetable (F/V) consumption between high- and low-income Americans. This gap is related, in part, to decreased access to food retailers that sell fresh F/V in low-income communities. Farmers' markets are identified as a strategy for improving F/V consumption by increasing access to these foods.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this systematic review was to examine literature published from 1994 to 2014 to identify facilitators and barriers of farmers' markets use, particularly among low-income consumers.

DESIGN: Peer-reviewed literature was identified in Ebsco Host (Academic Search Complete). Inclusion criteria for abstract review was primary research focused on farmers' market use identifying 87 studies for full-text review. Full-text review identified articles focused on facilitators and/or barriers of farmers' market use resulting in 49 articles. At least two reviewers completed review of all articles.

RESULTS: Of the 49 articles, 39% specified inclusion of low-income consumers and fewer than 15% focused on racial and ethnic minorities. Few studies were guided by theory and/or used standardized metrics. Results indicate farmers' market use is influenced by multiple economic, service delivery, spatial-temporal, social, and personal factors. Among studies that included low-income populations (n=19), key barriers to farmers' market use were perceptions that food assistance benefits were not accepted, belief that food variety at farmers' markets was limited, lack of access to transportation, lack of racial/ethnic diversity in the market space, and mismatch between markets and personal lifestyles. There is wide variation in study design and reporting standards and infrequent use of standardized measures limiting comparisons across studies.

CONCLUSIONS: There is a need to establish valid and reliable metrics and reporting standards for evaluating farmers' markets. Findings may inform interventions, programs, and policies to promote farmers' market use.

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