Sustainable America Blog

The Locavore Index

There is collective sense of excitement at a an early morning farmers market. Nothing tastes better than the freshest possible ingredients, raised with care. But it’s not only about taste. The benefits of eating local are many – healthy fresh food, supporting the local economy, and reducing the nation’s dependence on oil for transport, to name a few. And if you ask the founders of Strolling of the Heifers, local food systems and the sense of community they create can be a whole lot of fun.

Strolling of the Heifers, an organization that works to promote sustainable local agriculture, is best known for their annual parade. Scores of pretty heifer calves wreathed in flowers, along with farmers, future farmers, floats, and various farm animals amble through Brattleboro, VT each year on the first weekend in June (National Dairy Month). It is an extremely popular event and captures the spirit of what the organization is all about. Strolling of the Heifers cherishes local farming, seeking to ensure that families hold onto their farms and produce more generations of local farmers to feed Vermont.

The state’s commitment to the locavore movement may be paying off statistically. Strolling of the Heifers created the Locavore Index (represented by our graphic above) this year, which indicates per-capita presence of local food sources by state in the form of CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture programs) and farmers markets. Vermont tops the list.

You might think that a state like California would have a huge number of farmers markets and CSAs, and you would be right, but California also has a huge population. As you can see in the map above, they are number one in sheer quantity of farmers markets and CSAs, but they rank 41st on the Locavore Index (indicated by the bar graph) because of access per capita. The states that top the Locavore Index have the best ratio of farmers markets and CSAs to population. Higher rank equals better access to local foods for the residents of that state.

Prime farmers market season is upon us! Don’t miss out on the freshest produce, dairy and meat your community has to offer. Use one of these databases to locate your nearest Farmers Markets and CSAs:

Local Harvest

USDA Farmers Market Search

The Eat Well Guide

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By the Numbers

Currently 50 million households suffer from food insecurity, meaning that family members cannot always meet their basic food needs.

10 million people a year could be fed through the recovery of just one-fifth of food waste.

Only 2% of food waste is composted or otherwise recycled—62% of paper is recycled.

Consumers throw out about 40% of the fresh and frozen fish they buy.

The U.S. produced 208 pounds of meat per person in 2009—60% more than Europe.

Low income commuters spend a much higher proportion of their wages on gas—8.6% versus 2.1% at $4 per gallon.

Food prices rose 35-40 percentage points between 2002–2008.

Americans consume 25% of the world’s produced oil, but our nation holds less than 3% of the world’s proven oil reserves.

The International Energy Agency says greenhouse gas emissions rose 3.2% last year, with a 9.3% increase in China offsetting declines in the US and EU.

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