Local Food Systems

Children eating apples in the classroom. (Copyright ARS)

A community food system "integrates food production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal to enhance the environmental, economic, social and nutritional health of a particular place." From Discovering the Food System: A Primer on Community Food Systems, Cornell University.

USDA. Agricultural Marketing Service.

The interactive Local Food Compass map "shows USDA and other federal investments in local and regional food systems since 2009, along with data such as farmers markets, food hubs, and meat processors."

USDA. Economic Research Service.

"ERS provides comprehensive overview of local food systems, including alternative definitions of local food, estimates market size and reach, characteristics of local consumers and producers, and early indications of the economic and health impacts of local food systems."

USDA. Agricultural Marketing Service.

"The consumer demand for locally-produced food is creating jobs and opportunity throughout rural America.... Farm and business opportunities continue to increase as the market share of local and regional foods grows."  This resource helps connect farmers, ranchers and food businesses with USDA programs, research, resources, and funding to help them meet this growing demand.

USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service.

The "first-ever survey conducted by USDA's National Agricultural Statistics Service to produce benchmark data about local food marketing practices" reports data on direct marketed sales of food; sales by marketing practice; direct-to-consumer marketing practices; location of production and type of products sold directly to consumers; demographics; and farm level practices for farms which market directly.

ATTRA. National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.

Offers resources and tools about local foods; urban and community agriculture; local marketing, processing, and distribution; farm start-up; and policy and food access. Identifies programs and projects that focus on local foods. Includes Local Food Resources, a directory of programs, resources and contacts; and the Bringing Local Food to Local Institutions guide to programs.

USDA. Agricultural Law Information Partnership.

Information about laws and regulations pertaining to local and regional food systems.

University of Arkansas. National Agricultural Law Center.

Site includes Congressional reports, agency listings, Center reports and references to statutes, case law and other government information pertinent to local food systems. Links to related U.S. government and other publications and resources.

USDA. National Agricultural Library.

The National Agricultural Library's digital exhibit showcases the library’s numerous historical and current resources that detail how food travels from farm to table. It comprises three main sections: a review of the “Farm-to-Table” movement of the early 1900s, a survey of roadside stands and farmers markets, and a list of current USDA local food initiatives.

USDA. Agricultural Marketing Service.

Links to local foods topical publications and presentations, including those on direct-to-consumer marketing. AMS works to improve market access for operators of small and medium-size farms.

USDA. NAL. Food and Nutrition Information Center.

This resource list provides information on how establishing community food systems meets daily food and nutrition needs, helps the local economy, supports local farmers, and promotes a sustainable, local food system.

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