What Does Local Farming Mean?
50 years ago, 70 percent of the produce in grocery stores was grown with local farming within 100 miles. Nowadays, the average American's food has traveled over 1,500 miles before reaching their plate. So what does local farming mean and what has happened to local food today?
The popularity of living a "locavore" lifestyle with focusing on supporting local businesses and especially that of local farming is steadily on the rise. Most people can agree when asked, "What does local farming mean?" that local farming means fresh, seasonal, delicious, healthy, sustainable, and tasty food. That said, how would you define "local food"?
It turns out that there is no one official definition for "local farming," or "local food." But let's explore further the various ways we might answer the question, "What does local farming mean?"
1. What Does Local Farming Mean? Let's Check the Food Miles on That:
The term 'food miles' pertains to the distance between the place where food is grown and the place it is consumed or sold - this is one way to determine what local farming means and what counts as local food. The 2008 Food, Conservation, and Energy Act as adopted by Congress defines local food as the distance a product can travel to be considered a "locally, regionally produced agricultural food product."
This criteria for what makes up what local farming means is less than 400 miles from the origin or the state where it was produced. But the more common definition of local food is that it was grown within 100 miles or within the state.
It is crucial that the information about the product accompanies the food when it travels. This will ensure the origin of the product. There may be a third party, such as a restaurant, that acts as an intermediary between the farmer and the consumer. The question is: How does this intermediary define local food, and what does local farming mean to them?
The bigger question when trying to define what makes food local is that definition is in line with consumer expectations. Supply chain management, and even for resources and community farms sourced by Four Roots Farm is the key factor to ensuring that the right information is shared between all parties.
2. Ecology Dimension can Impact What Local Farming Means
Some may refer to the environment in which the food was grown to define what makes local farming, but consumers will ultimately decide what local food means for them. The rise of farmers markets and the introduction of new services like home delivery, or even our own produce box pick-up program have made it easier to buy "local food" in recent years.
No matter how you define local food, the increase in this movement means that there are more small farmers and producers available on the market. This increase and the potential for supply chains to include more partners means even more accessibility. That said, it is vital to ensure transparency between all supply chain partners, as consumers tend to want more information about where their food comes, especially when determining what local farming means.
Concepts like answering what does local farming mean, may not be top of mind for everyone, but it is important to understand where your foods are coming from, their impact on the planet, the carbon foot-print, and how the "local" resources we choose can indeed be trusted as truly being local.
Here at Four Roots Farm, local faming and feeding our communities is one thing you never have to question - it is, put simply, why we do what we do. To learn more about how to donate, volunteer, or about our local farming partners, click here.