Growing support for local foods
A recent Economic Research Service report from the USDA called Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts and Issues provides an overview of the country's local food systems. Some of the findings include:
- Direct-to-consumer marketing sales of agricultural products more than doubled from 1997 to 2007.
- The number of farmers markets nationwide tripled from 1994 to 2009.
- In 1986, there were two community supported agriculture organizations (CSAs). In 2001, there were 400. Early 2010 estimates exceed 1,400.
- The number of farm-to-school programs (schools feeding students local produce) rose from two in 1997 to 2,095 in 2009.
- Most farms that sell directly to consumers are small farms with less than $50,000 in total farm sales.
- Expanding local food systems can increase employment and income in those communities.
Eating local foods is a great way for consumers to get good nutrition, help the planet and support the local economy. To find a nearby farmers market use USDA’s Farmers Market Locator.
Producers looking to begin direct marketing or wanting to increase sales, have a variety of resources available to them including: UC Agritourism Center, UC Farm and Business Marketplace, and your local UC Cooperative Extension office.