By: Maya Florendo
Issue: The Locavore Movement
Present: The local food movement encourages consumers to minimize the distance between the production and consumption of their food. Those who participate in the movement, occasionally called “locavores”, believe local food is found within a 100-mile radius of ones home1. Consumers today have begun placing more value on locally produced food for many reasons.3 Reducing the distance between farm and fork is healthier and cuts back on environmental impact. Cutting out middlemen and purchasing directly from local farms, helps money stay in the local economy4. A recent study shows that two in three Americans prefer purchasing local foods to support their local economy, while also enjoying the benefits of fresh produce and meats2.
Past: The local food movement began as a response to the growing apprehension of the integrity of the American food system. It originated due to growing interest in other movements. The environmental movement of the 1960s and 70s, which brought awareness to the negative impact humanity has on the environment6; and the back to the land movement, which also began around the same time, promoted the idea of self-sufficiency7. The increased interest in local food can be seen in the spike in the number of local farmers markets, with a rise in markets rising from 1,755 markets in 1994 to 8,144 in 2013. Direct to consumer sales have also risen from $557 million in 1997 to $1.2 billion in 20072.
Future: The growing demand for local options by consumers has had a strong influence on the national food system. Large corporations are introducing organic and local options with promises to increase supply in the near future2. Despite the explosion in popularity of the local food movement, potential obstacles may stand in the way of further advancement. Increasing demand for locally raised meat would be good for local farmers, however the decreasing number of slaughterhouses has hindered farmers’ ability to provide the product9. Critics of the local food movement also point to the inequality that stems from it. Those in lower income areas tend to only have access to stores that offer non-local, cheaper options. Communities of color in lower income areas suffer the most from this lack of access to local products; exhibiting higher rates of diet related problems. If this inequality continues, and local farmers cannot reach the majority of the population, we will see a decline in local food market2.
Prentice, J. “The Birth of Locavore”. Oxford University Blog. 20 Nov. 2007. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
2Pirog, R., Miller, C., Way, L., Hazekamp, C., & Kim, E. 2014. “The local food movement: Setting the stage forgood food”. MSU Center for Regional Food Systems. May 2014. Web. 22 Jan. 2015
3 Sexton., S. “Does Local Production Improve Environmental and Health Outcomes?”. Gianni Foundation. n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
4 Darby, K. Batte, M.T. Ernst, S. Roe, B. “Willingness to pay for locally produced foods: A customer intercept study of direct market and grocery store shoppers”. AgEcon Search. University of Minnesota. 2006. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
5 Ruth-McSwain, A. “Eating Green: Coverage of the Locavore Movement”. Journal of Extension. Oct. 2012. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
6 Gordon, E. “History of the Modern Environmental Movement in America”. The American Center. n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.
7 “History”. Middlebury University. n.d. Web. 22 Jan. 2015.