A Vermont-based organization that advocates local food has released their annual report called “The Locavore Index“. They use a formula considering the number of farmers markets, CSAs, food hubs on a per capita basis and the percentage of farm-to-school programs to rank each state on how easy it is to eat local food. Oregon comes in at #4, behind Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire and just ahead of Hawaii. It’s a little surprising to see California down at ranking #38, though 12% of the country’s population resides there and it only has 9% of the country’s farmers markets and 6% of the CSAs. Texas is unfortunately ranked at the bottom of the list, for the past 2 years.
Some inspiring numbers that we pull from the data:
– 100% of school districts in Rhode Island and Hawaii have farm-to-school programs
– there are 8,166 Farmers Markets and 6,038 CSAs in the country (as of March 13, 2014)
– Oregon was ranked #14 in 2012, climbed to #7 in 2013 and is now #4 in the 2014 report
– California (pop. ~38.3 million) has the most Farmers Markets at 757, followed by New York State (pop. ~19.6 million) with 636
Strolling of the Heifers also includes a list of 10 reasons to consume local foods with the report:
Supports local farms: Buying local food keeps local farms healthy and creates local jobs at farms and in local food processing and distribution systems.
Boosts local economy: Food dollars spent at local farms and food producers stay in the local economy, creating more jobs at other local businesses.
Less travel: Local food travels much less distance to market than typical fresh or processed grocery store foods, therefore using less fuel and generating fewer greenhouse gases.
Less waste: Because of the shorter distribution chains for local foods, less food is wasted in distribution, warehousing and merchandising.
More freshness: Local food is fresher, healthier and tastes better, because it spends less time in transit from farm to plate, and therefore loses fewer nutrients and incurs less spoilage.
New and better flavors: When you commit to buy more local food, you’ll discover interesting new foods, tasty new ways to prepare food, and a new appreciation of the pleasure of each season’s foods.
Good for the soil: Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture, which reduces the reliance on monoculture — single crops grown over a wide area to the detriment of soils.
Attracts tourists: Local foods promote agritourism — farmers markets and opportunities to visit farms and local food producers help draw tourists to a region.
Preserves open space: Buying local food helps local farms survive and thrive, keeping land from being redeveloped into suburban sprawl.
Builds more connected communities: Local foods create more vibrant communities by connecting people with the farmers and food producers who bring them healthy local foods. As customers of CSAs and farmers markets have discovered, they are great places to meet and connect with friends as well as farmers!