Mads Svennerud

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Urbanization and an increasingly globalized food system cause growing physical and psychological distances between producers and customers. Alternative distribution initiatives with direct sale to local customers are emerging. This paper reports results of two surveys, one from producers and one from customers, in the newly introduced Norwegian farmers market system. The main aim of the research was to examine attitudes toward local foods and evaluate the potential of this new marketing channel to reduce the distances between farmers and consumers. Results show that producers were more concerned than customers regarding knowledge on how food was produced, and locally marketed, although customers were also interested in these issues. Both groups regarded as to how food was produced to be more important than where it was produced. Producers were more interested in giving customers information on agriculture than customers were in receiving this information. The attitudes toward food differed between respondents of larger urban cities and smaller cities in Norway. Producers traveled a longer distance (average 79 km) than customers (average 14 km) to come to the markets, but traveling distance differed substantially among the sites owing to market location, number of local farmers and small-scale local processors, and product diversity. Results suggest that the farmers markets have potential to reduce both physical and social distances between producers and consumers, and thereby contribute to the sustainability of local food production. Understanding farmer and consumer attitudes can contribute to organization and promotion of farmers markets in Norway and elsewhere. doi:10.1300/J064v30n04_06.