Is it safer to shop at farmers’ markets than in supermarkets?
The way people grocery shop is changing — maybe temporarily, and maybe for good. One shopping trend that was experiencing pre-pandemic popularity might offer unique advantages in the era of social distancing.
While consumers have received conflicting guidance regarding their level of safety during the pandemic, farmers’ markets may actually be safer than conventional grocery stores, according to a Brookings Institution article. Being outside, they can allow for enhanced social distancing. Movable, temporary booths may be more effectively cleaned than in-store fixtures. Produce is presumably touched by fewer hands due to a shortened supply chain, and arranging pickup with vendors can cut down on time spent standing in line.
Since March, a rapidly evolving scientific understanding of how the novel coronavirus moves and the ways COVID-19 is most commonly contracted has led to revisions in — and disagreements about — how both customers and retailers can prevent spreading the pathogen.
Experts disagree about the extent to which being outside might make the spread of coronavirus less likely and what public health strategies built around that should look like, as described in an article on The Hill.
Former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Scott Gottlieb pointed to a non-peer reviewed study from China, which appears to indicate markedly reduced transmission rates occurring out of doors. Tom Frieden, former director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said that enjoying nature poses a low rate of transmission. Professor Eleanor Murray of the Boston University School of Public Health, however, cautioned that crowds are still a concern, even if they are outside, meaning social distancing must still be obeyed.
Municipalities globally have begun experimenting with expanding outdoor restaurant seating as a potentially safer way to open up economies, which Wired characterizes as a possible lifeline for struggling restaurants.
- Farmers markets are vital during COVID-19, but they need more support – Brookings
- Evidence mounts that outside is safer when it comes to COVID-19 – The Hill
- As Cities Reopen, Outdoor Dining May Provide a Lifeline – Wired
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How can farmers’ markets better position themselves to allay customer fears during this time? Should traditional grocers consider outside operations during the pandemic and might they remain in operation after the threat has passed?