When America faced national crises, the Reading Terminal Market demonstrated the importance of a regional food supply. Compared to other retail businesses, the Market prospered during the Great Depression of the 1930s because local farmers were eager to bring their merchandise to a city where supply was scarce and prices were good.
During World War II, when large-scale farmers redirected food production to the war effort, small local farmers sold their goods at the Market. Customers with ration books waited in long lines to buy whatever merchants had to sell.
"The truck gardens of New Jersey
the orchards of Pennsylvania, the vineyards
of California and the lands of the Tropics
all contribute their choicest productions
for the Reading Terminal Market."
--Reading Terminal Market Directory, 1913
"It is because of our modern facilities and scientific knowledge of refrigeration that we are able to offer our patrons foods from distant points and foreign lands, that could not be shipped and kept on hand without proper refrigeration."
--G. H. Ettien, Market Superintendent, 1934