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The 10 Best (and Worst) States to Eat Local

For related articles and information, please visit OCA's Organic Transitions page, Vermont News page and our Maine News page.

"Eat local," they say-but where is local eating the easiest?

A Vermont-based group has released its annual ranking of states based on the availability of local food to the average citizen. It's the third annual Locavore Index compiled by Strolling of the Heifers (here's a hint for the complete story on where that quirky name came from: It's a play on Pamplona's running of the bulls).

How does a relatively small nonprofit tally the availability of local food nationwide? The index comprises four publicly available statistics per state:

• Number of farmers markets

• Number of CSAs

• Number of food hubs (i.e., "facilities that handle the aggregation, distribution and marketing of foods from a group of farms and food producers in a region")

• Percentage of school districts with farm-to-school programs

The first three are divided per 100,000 residents. Farmers markets and CSAs are weighted at 30 percent each, while food hubs and farm-to-school programs are weighted at 20 percent.

This gives you a pretty decent idea of which states are most convenient when it comes to buying and eating locally grown and raised food, though it's worth noting that the model doesn't measure per capita consumption (that is, ranking access to local food doesn't equate with ranking how much of it is being bought-a difficult thing to evaluate, to be sure).