Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Local-food movement is growing, but what's local?

More than half of consumers say it's more important to buy local than organic, according to data from research firm Mintel. However, the government can't track "local food" sales because there's no official definition of what makes food local, and consumers don't always know what they're buying because food at grocery stores labeled "local," is not necessarily grown within 100 miles, a common benchmark.

Strict "locavores," a term commonly used to describe those who buy local food, only buy food raised within 50 to 250 miles of their home, The Associated Press reports. Locavores often use the 100-mile standard but may extend it to the boundaries of their state. (AP photo by Toby Talbot: Woman harvests produce from a Vermont community farm.)

A new locavore index, which counted the number of farmers' markets and farms engaging in community-supported agriculture, in which farmers contract with consumers, found that Vermont is the top locavore state. Iowa, Montana, Maine and Hawaii complete the top five. "The bottom of the list raises questions," AP reports. Florida produces most of the country's citrus, strawberries and tomatoes, but was in the bottom five. U.S. Department of Agriculture spokesman Aaron Lavallee said local food in New England has fewer miles to travel than food in large states, such as Texas or Montana. (Read more)

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