Developing and Testing Consumer Educational Material at Farmers’ Markets
Biblographic citation: Food Protection Trends, vol. 39, no. 2, pp. 162-175, Mar 2019
Volume 39, Issue 2: Pages 162–175
Farmers’ markets are becoming increasingly popular in communities as a way for consumers to access fresh local produce. Yet, produce remains a commodity implicated in foodborne outbreaks. This study identified, created, and tested the efficacy of educational material at farmers’ markets. Formative research with growers and consumers identified an unsafe behavior. A semistructured interview with growers (N = 6) and an online consumer survey (N = 225) found that consumers demonstrated inconsistent knowledge and behavior towards washing produce. A local artist designed messaging guided by health-literacy principles, using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Clear Communication Index Score Sheet. A posttest-only quasi-experimental design evaluated a 4-week farmers’ market intervention. A total of 326 respondents took part in the survey at either the control or experimental sites. The efficacy of the “Wash Your Produce” signage had a modest effect in improving consumer compliance with regard to washing produce right before cooking it or eating it raw. Overall, 40.7% of the respondents perceived organic produce to be less likely to have germs/bacteria that can make people sick. As respondent educational attainment increased, those who indicated they washed produce to remove GMOs decreased. Farmers’ markets are an important part of one’s community and represent an appropriate location to present consumer food safety education at the point of purchase.
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