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Why Our Laws Need to Catch up to the Local Food Revolution

For related articles and more information, please visit OCA's Breaking The Chains page.
This year, spring arrived early as a record-breaking heat wave swept across the nation, making it feel like summer in Minnesota, Virginia, and many other parts of the country. Farmers are either already planting their crops or just about to start. Consumers who shop at farmers markets throughout the Midwest will soon be sampling fresh-picked local asparagus a few weeks ahead of schedule.

Maybe it's due to the increasingly frequent outbreaks of food-borne illnesses that afflict our food system. Or maybe people just like knowing where their food comes from. Or how produce tastes when it's been harvested that morning.

It could be all those things, but demand for local food is soaring. There are now more than 7,000 farmers markets across the nation, up from 340 in 1970. More than $1.2 billion in agricultural products are sold each year through direct market channels like farmers markets and Community Supported Agriculture programs (CSAs). CSAs vary in structure and scope. Most enable a consumer to purchase a "share" from the crops or other products that a particular farm produces throughout the season.

Researchers have found repeatedly that purchasing local food has a significant "multiplier" effect. That means a bigger portion of every dollar spent on local food is retained in local economies than is the case with conventional groceries. 


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