How Local Is Your Food?

The 2013 Locavore Index, in its second year, features rankings that rankle

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Jason Henske
Buying local produce helps support small family farms.

People who are concerned about how many miles their food travels to get to their tables may be interested in Strolling of the Heifers' 2013 Locavore Index, which ranks all 50 states plus the District of Columbia on how "local" their agriculture is.

Which state tops the list? Vermont, which, coincidentally, is where the organization is based. Maine came in second, Oregon in seventh, and California came in 42nd, right behind Mississippi. That's a surprising result in a state that's home to the Central Valley, which noted The New York Times columnist Mark Bittman called "our greatest food resource."

How could this be? Well, it doesn't take a degree in statistics to follow the methodology, at least. Strolling of the Heifers culled data on state population and the number of farmers' markets, community-supported agricultures (CSAs), and food hubs from various sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, USDA, and LocalHarvest. These were then combined into a weighted score that placed 45 percent weight on farmers' markets, equal weight on CSAs, and the remaining 10 percent on food hubs. To account for differences in state populations, these were then converted into a score per 100,000 people.

Vermont, with its relatively small population — just more than 600,000 — and relatively large number of farmers' markets and CSAs per capita, breezed past all the other states for the index's second year running.

To see how your state fared, see the results below (numbers in parentheses are rankings from the year prior):

  1. Vermont (1)
  2. Maine (4)
  3. New Hampshire (13)
  4. North Dakota (7)
  5. Iowa (2)
  6. Montana (3)
  7. Oregon (14)
  8. Wyoming (9)
  9. Wisconsin (15)
  10. Idaho (10)
  11. Rhode Island (24)
  12. Massachusetts (28)
  13. Hawaii (5)
  14. South Dakota (8)
  15. Connecticut (29)
  16. Minnesota (17)
  17. Alaska (27)
  18. Kentucky (6)
  19. Colorado (31)
  20. Nebraska (12)
  21. Washington (22)
  22. Michigan (25)
  23. West Virginia (11)
  24. District of Columbia (not ranked)
  25. New York (42)
  26. Kansas (19)
  27. New Mexico (16)
  28. Virginia (34)
  29. Maryland (39)
  30. Delaware (45)
  31. North Carolina (32)
  32. Pennsylvania (38)
  33. Indiana (30)
  34. Missouri (18)
  35. Alabama (26)
  36. Ohio (35)
  37. South Carolina (33)
  38. Arkansas (21)
  39. Illinois (40)
  40. Tennessee (36)
  41. Mississippi (23)
  42. California (41)
  43. Georgia (44)
  44. Utah (37)
  45. Oklahoma (20)
  46. New Jersey (48)
  47. Nevada (47)
  48. Arizona (49)
  49. Louisiana (46)
  50. Florida (50)
  51. Texas (43)

Click here to see the data set from the study

Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.

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