Which State Eats the Most Local Foods?

New food index ranks Vermont as the state with the most locally grown foods

If you love to eat local, better head east: a new food index has rated states in order of which grows the most local food for consumption. The winner-take-all? Vermont.

To determine which states grew the most local food, the 2012 Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index counted the number of farmers markets and CSAs per number of people. Vermont has 99 farmers markets and 164 CSAs, the Associated Press reports, a large number considering the population of the state is just about 622,000. The other top states were Hawaii, Iowa, Montana, and Maine. The state with the least amount of locavores? Florida. With 146 farmers markets and 193 CSAs to serve 18.5 million people in the state, it's a scarcely locavore-populated location.

The point of the survey, said Martin Cohn of the Strolling Heigers to the AP, was to start a conversation about locavorism. Locally grown food is a tricky definition, as the government can't track sales for local foods. Plus, labels can be tricky: one "local" label could mean 10 miles away or 100 miles away. But the movement is growing nonetheless: nearly 50 percent of consumers now say it's important to buy local. Deputy Agriculture Secretary Kathleen Merrigan has called the locavore movement "the biggest retail food trend in my adult lifetime."

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Interesting ... the index as structured does not appear to account for those who actually garden. While I live in Vermont, and I have a very large garden, many of us do not so we would need a CSA. Many of my relatives from the South have year-round gardens so perhaps they do actually eat more locally ... cannot tell from this index. I would be curious to see something a bit more scientific than my own anecdotal accounts ... perhaps tracking seed sales along with CSAs and farmers' markets. Not a lot citrus coming from Vermont farms.

James Ehlers
Colchester, VT

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