The second-annual Locavore Index, which ranks states in terms of access to locally produced food, was released recently by Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based local food advocacy group. The rankings compare the number of farmers markets, CSAs and food hubs on a per capita basis. Like last year, Vermont came out on top by a landslide, which shows that it is possible for a state to build a thriving local food system. Also, like last year, we used the data to make an infographic. How does your state stack up?
A change in the metrics Heifers used this year — as well as an increase in farmers markets and CSAs — helped New Hampshire move up from No. 13 to 3. Oregon and Wisconsin were also new to the top 10. Rounding out the bottom of the list were Louisiana, Florida and Texas.
Heifers used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture; the U.S. Census bureau (July 2012 estimates of population); and California-based local food resource directory LocalHarvest, which was weighted (farmers markets: 45%, CSAs: 45%, and food hubs: 10%), then scored on a per capita basis.
The rankings will likely continue to move around as data about local food improves. “Right now, reliable state-by-state data about local food consumption is pretty scarce,” said Index coordinator Martin Langeveld. The data from LocalHarvest replaced an older data set used last year, and the food hubs data was used this year for the first time. “Next year,” Langeveld said, “We plan to incorporate more detailed information from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which is now being processed by the USDA.”
Strolling of the Heifers hopes these rankings will encourage all states to step up their local food efforts. “There are so many ways to do that,” said executive director Orly Munzing, “not just with farmers markets and CSAs, but by supporting Farm-To-School programs, urging local hospitals and nursing homes to purchase local foods, asking supermarkets to buy from local farms, and of course, celebrating and honoring our farmers whenever we can.”
Sustainable America is committed to growing our country’s sustainable local food systems — an important way to increase food availability, reduce the amount of oil needed to transport that food, and strengthen local economies. We hope the Locavore Index will help persuade states to support more local food development initiatives, open more farmers markets, find solutions to distribution issues, and support family farms.