Farmers Markets and Food-Borne Illness*


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Abstract

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 per million, 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.

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