Comparing Apples and Coconuts

Food Regimes and (Farmers) Markets in Brooklyn, USA, and Suva, Fiji




Farmers Markets, Traditional Markets, East New York Farms, Supermarkets, Food Regimes, Food Sovereignty, Food Dignity, Suva Municipal Market, Partners to Improve Markets, Fiji


Until the advent and spread of supermarkets, the markets that we now call farmers, public, open-air, or traditional markets needed no adjectives. They were simply markets. Currently, the bodies of research about traditional markets common in the Global South and about farmers markets resurging in the Global North tend to be separate. However, viewed through the lens of food regime frame­works, together these markets come more clearly into focus as globally local alternatives to a corpo­rate regime of supermarkets. As microcases within this macrosociological framework, this paper examines two urban markets—one traditional daily market in Suva, Fiji, and one seasonal Saturday farmers market in East New York, Brooklyn, in the United States. We analyze interviews and surveys with vendors and market-related documents. As we illustrate with brief case descriptions, other than both being urban, the individual markets and their contexts could hardly be more different. One market was formalized early in the colonial food regime, and the other was founded more recently as an alternative to the current neoliberal corporate regime. However, vendors in both reported that selling at the market generates income, autonomy, respect, and social connectedness for them. These commonalities suggest that examining lessons from such markets across communities globally, South or North, traditional or farmers, may offer new insights into how to sustain and expand such mar­kets even in the face of supermarket domination. In addition, doing so with a food regime lens may make that work more useful for informing how to support traditional and farmers market develop­ment in ways that help keep aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute, and consume food at the heart of their work, as real alternatives to neoliberal frameworks.

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Author Biographies

Christine M. Porter, University of Wyoming

Associate Professor and Wyoming Excellence Chair of Community and Public Health; Food Dignity Principal Investigator; Division of Kinesiology & Health, College of Health Sciences

Lacey Gaechter, University of Wyoming

Master’s student, University of Wyoming. Gaechter is now a doctoral student in Environmental Health and Engineering, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Shikha Upadhyaya, University of Wyoming

PhD student, University of Wyoming. Dr. Upadhyaya is now Assistant Professor and Faculty Fellow for the Public Good, Marketing Department, College of Business and Economics, California State University.



How to Cite

Porter, C., Gaechter, L., & Upadhyaya, S. (2020). Comparing Apples and Coconuts: Food Regimes and (Farmers) Markets in Brooklyn, USA, and Suva, Fiji. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 9(3), 197–214.

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