The USDA estimates that sales of “local food” have nearly doubled in the last six years, increasing from about $5B (2008) to $11.7B (2014). Per Aubrey, it’s not just farmers markets driving the trend. Think food hubs, farm-to-school and other models and initiatives. A factor in the growth has been federal investment in local and regional food projects.
And this is important, for a number of reasons, including this: the growth in this sector may be making it easier for Americans to access healthy, affordable food.
“Local food is rapidly growing from a niche market to an integrated system recognized for its economic boost to communities across the country,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack tells The Salt in an interview.
To learn more about local food projects in your area, look no further than the USDA’s website. The agency provides a series of tools on its Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food web pages. One of the most useful tools is a food compass that maps local and regional food businesses and projects across the country.
And if you’re interested in another resource for finding out what local and sustainably produced foods are available in your area – including farms, farmers markets and restaurant listings – you can also check out the Eat Well Guide. The Eat Well Guide is a project of Sustainable Table, and was originally launched in 2003. It’s a curated, national directory of more than 25,000 farms, farmers’ markets, restaurants, co-ops and other retail outlets that provide locally grown, sustainably produced food. The new guide is mobile-friendly and GPS-driven. Users can search by location or category, or use city guides to create and find tailored listings.
Other work by Aubrey that the UC Food Observer has featured includes: “Dynamic Duos” … How to get more nutrition by pairing foods” and “Landfill of lettuce.