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USDA: Farmers Markets a Nearly $5 Billion Industry

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Turns out those tote-sack-toting supporters of "local foods" might just be onto something after all: A new report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture says sales of "local foods" amounted to $4.8 billion in 2008.

It's funny to think of those tiny booths selling artisanal cheese and organic horse cookies as having the ability to ripple out economically, but as it turns out, they do.

But to clarify, the USDA report indicates that it isn't using "organic" as a synonym for "local." Regardless of how you label the data, though, the trend is clear: "The number of farms selling directly to consumers has grown, from an estimated 86,000 in the early 1990s to about 136,000 now, according to the USDA. And the number of farmers markets has about doubled, from 2,756 in 1998 to 5,274 in 2009."

There's at least two ways to put a bow on this development: See it as a potential market to tap into as an entrepreneur, and also, as a human being, see it as the good guys (the moms and pops of the worlds) winning out over the huge corporations. Either way, it's a thought-provoking development. Read all about it in the AP.

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