Local and regional food systems have grown in popularity over the past decade as shown by the increasing supply of and demand for local foods. Some evidence of this growth includes nearly tripling the number of farmers’ markets, and the initiation of thousands of farm-to-school programs across the U.S. Local foods have often topped consumer and food professional surveys of food trends.
Local food systems operate within the existing framework for all food regulations and policies. A quilt of public and non-profit organizations work to shape food policy and regulations. For example, food policy councils are comprised of a broad range of individuals from all aspects of a local food system. They review the local food system to develop policy recommendations and strategies for expanding and improving local food systems to meet specific challenges at local and State levels. A range of local, State, and Federal regulations guide marketing, food safety, licensing, and other activities related to food production and sale.
Most state Departments of Agriculture (or similar departments) operate programs to promote locally grown products with slogans such as “Georgia Grown” or “Utah's Own.” At the Federal level, the USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food task force supports and coordinates the work of local food systems across government agencies.
For more in-depth information, see USDA Economic Research Service January 2015 Report - Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress.