Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Did Your State Make the Top 10 List for Its Commitment to Local Food?

Food

By Strolling of the Heifers

Vermont once again tops all the other states in terms of their commitment to local food, according to the 2016 Locavore Index.


The index ranks the 50 states, plus Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia, using a variety of indicators related to local food production and consumption. It has been produced annually for five years by Strolling of the Heifers, a non-profit food advocacy organization based in Vermont.

“The index has stimulated a lot of discussion and a lot of action in many states to improve their ranking," said Orly Munzing, founder and executive director of Strolling of the Heifers.

“We're proud that Vermont is still number one, but it is great to see so many other states following Vermont's lead in building strong local food systems. The purpose of the index is to stimulate efforts across the country to use more local food in homes, restaurants, schools and institutions."

After Vermont, the next four spots in the index are occupied by Maine, Oregon, Montana and New Hampshire, in that order. Montana is a newcomer to the top five, moving up from seventh place on the strength of strong investment of U.S. Department of Agriculture (UDSA) Know-Your-Farmer grant funding.

Rounding out the top 10 are Hawaii, Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Rhode Island and DC.

“While it's exciting that Vermont remains number one in the nation for local food production and consumption, it is also exciting to witness the great strides other states are realizing in reaching these goals," said Chuck Ross, secretary of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets.

“As we all know, farmers are very effective educators and often best positioned to promote agricultural literacy in our communities. The future of a successful agricultural economy in which farmers and producers can prosper and consumers have access to safe, affordable, healthy food depends upon an agriculturally literate and engaged public. The Locavore Index helps us track our progress and work towards that success."

This year's index incorporates new data from the USDA on its Know Your Farmer—Know your Food grants. These were calculated on a per-capita basis for each state. Vermont, the top-ranked state, received $21.43 per person in such grants, more than twice the amount for North Dakota ($10.10), which came in second in this category.

The index also incorporates updated information on the number of farmers markets, the number of community-supported agriculture (CSA) operations, the number of food hubs—all compared on a per-capita basis—along with the percentage of each state's school districts with active Farm-to-School programs and the percentage of the budgets of those programs spent on local food.

The index continues to include data from the USDA's Census of Agriculture, including data on the dollar volume of direct-to-the-public food sales by farmers, including sales at farmers markets, CSAs, farm stands and online sales. But since this census data has not been updated since 2012, its weight within the index has been reduced.

Puerto Rico is included in the index for the first time this year. Even though its local-food movement is still fledgling (it has only one CSA), it came in 41st, ahead of New Jersey and Georgia, on the strength of a strong farm-to-school program in its schools.

Martin Langeveld, who researches and compiles the index for Strolling of the Heifers, commenting on the evolution of the index, said, “It's interesting to see that each year, there is a greater variety of metrics available around local food and developing more of them is important. Many states and the federal government have programs to build the consumption of local foods, but to assess the effect of those efforts, we need more and better metrics."

Strolling of the Heifers lists 10 reasons for people to increase their use of local foods, stressing that local foods are more sustainable, healthier, better for the environment and economically positive than foods sourced from large-scale, globalized food systems.

1. Supports local farms: Buying local food keeps local farms healthy and creates local jobs at farms and in local food processing and distribution systems.

2. Boosts local economy: Food dollars spent at local farms and food producers stay in the local economy, creating more jobs at other local businesses.

3. Less travel: Local food travels much less distance to market than typical fresh or processed grocery store foods, therefore using less fuel and generating less greenhouse gases.

4. Less waste: Because of the shorter distribution chains for local foods, less food is wasted in distribution, warehousing and merchandising.

5. 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.

6. New and better flavors in each season: 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.

7. Good for the gene pool and the soil: Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture which preserves genetic diversity and reduces the reliance on monoculture—single crops grown over a wide area to the detriment of soils.

8. Attracts tourists: Local foods promote agritourism—farmers markets and opportunities to visit farms and local food producers help draw tourists to a region.

9. Preserves open space: Buying local food helps local farms survive and thrive, keeping land from being redeveloped into suburban sprawl.

10. 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.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

EU Delays Approval of Glyphosate, Again

Milk Alternatives That Will Make You Want to Ditch Dairy

Will Vegans Save the World?

Join Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

The Ministry of Trade issued a regulation revoking its decision from February to no longer require Indonesian timber companies to obtain export licenses that certify the wood comes from legal sources. BAY ISMOYO / AFP / Getty Images

By Hans Nicholas Jong

The Indonesian government has backed down from a decision to scrap its timber legality verification process for wood export, amid criticism from activists and the prospect of being shut out of the lucrative European market.

Read More Show Less

Viruses, pollution and warming ocean temperatures have plagued corals in recent years. The onslaught of abuse has caused mass bleaching events and threatened the long-term survival of many ocean species. While corals have little chance of surviving through a mass bleaching, a new study found that when corals turn a vibrant neon color, it's in a last-ditch effort to survive, as CBS News reported.

Read More Show Less
Harmful algal blooms, seen here at Ferril Lake in Denver, Colorado on June 30, 2016, are increasing in lakes and rivers across the U.S. Helen H. Richardson / The Denver Post / Getty Images

During summer in central New York, residents often enjoy a refreshing dip in the region's peaceful lakes.

But sometimes swimming is off-limits because of algae blooms that can make people sick.

Read More Show Less
A group of doctors prepared to treat coronavirus patients in Brazil. SILVIO AVILA / AFP via Getty Images

More than 40 million doctors and nurses are in, and they are prescribing a green recovery from the economic devastation caused by the new coronavirus.

Read More Show Less
Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (R) and Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte shake hands during an event to launch the United Nations' Climate Change conference, COP26, in central London on February 4, 2020. CHRIS J RATCLIFFE / POOL / AFP / Getty Images

The U.K. government has proposed delaying the annual international climate negotiations for a full year after its original date to November 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Read More Show Less
The Upcycled Food Association announced on May 19 that they define upcycled foods as ones that "use ingredients that otherwise would not have gone to human consumption, are procured and produced using verifiable supply chains, and have a positive impact on the environment." Minerva Studio / Getty Images

By Jared Kaufman

Upcycled food is now an officially defined term, which advocates say will encourage broader consumer and industry support for products that help reduce food waste. Upcycling—transforming ingredients that would have been wasted into edible food products—has been gaining ground in alternative food movements for several years but had never been officially defined.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A couple has a lunch under plexiglass protection designed by Christophe Gernigon at the H.A.N.D restaurant, on May 27, 2020 in Paris, as France eases lockdown measures taken to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. ALAIN JOCARD / AFP via Getty Images

By Thomas A. Russo

As restaurants and bars reopen to the public, it's important to realize that eating out will increase your risk of exposure to the new coronavirus.

Read More Show Less