Local food is no longer just a novelty. Farmers markets are growing nationwide and farms that sell directly to consumers brought in $1.3 billion in 2012, up eight percent from just five years earlier. Despite the demand, making local food work in some places is decidedly more difficult than others. Steamboat Springs is one of those places.
Buying locally grown food supports Colorado's economy and environment.
Credit Lord Mariser / Flickr - Creative Commons
Organic produce in the grocery store is labeled as good for the environment. No pesticides on the produce may reduce soil and water contamination, but organic goods that come from faraway places increase pollution and diminish the quality of those fruits and vegetables.
Samara Davis shops at the small Harvest Learning Center market in the basement of her Kansas City, Mo., church. It’s part of an effort for local farmers to expand their customer base.
Credit Jeremy Bernfeld / Harvest Public Media
Farm stands and farmers markets remain really important for many local farmers, but U.S. consumers barely buy any food directly from farms. That’s why local farmers are trying to crack in to the big institutional markets such as grocery stores, work cafeterias, schools and hospitals.
Local food is slowly becoming a not so niche market. Six years ago, USDA put the size of the local food sector at $4.8 billion.
Credit Matt Hannon / Flickr
When the U.S. Department of Agriculture releases detailed data from the 2012 Census of Agriculture in May, the numbers should illuminate all sorts of details about the country’s farmers. And for those involved in local food initiatives, the data may finally make it possible to update the statistics on the size and scope of their successes.