The notion of local foods being healthier–for people and the planet–is accepted fact now. What has been less explored is the changing economic picture of the movement.
A recent post on the US Department of Agriculture blog reminds us that direct sales from farms to regular folks went up 215 percent between 1992-2007. And it cites a report that finds regional sales from farms to distributors, grocers and restaurants are up as well–in fact, these “intermediated” sales (as the USDA calls ’em) account for three times as many sales as the direct-to-consumer kind. The whole range of these farm-to-local sales totaled $4.8 billion in 2008.
This is an effort by USDA to get a more accurate read on the economic effects of local food use, and of course it also has the effect of fattening the bottom line by adding the “intermediated” stats. This isn’t a shifty move, it makes sense to tabulate the dough by including more than just the farm-to-family table numbers. The best guess is that the overall sales of local food will hit $7 billion this year.
–The Food Watchdog staff