Local and regional food systems typically centralize within a specific region all of the activities associated with producing, processing, distributing and marketing foods. But there’s a lot more to it than simply geography. Local food systems convey information to consumers so that they can learn about and feel more connected to where their food comes from. In turn, the knowledge that they gain allows them to target their purchases to support their local economy.

U.S. Department of Agriculture. Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Compass. (2013).

The current interest in local foods is reflected in a long-standing focus of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on the best ways to get food from producers to consumers. The National Agricultural Library (NAL) holds copies of many historical and current materials documenting the ways that food makes its way from the farm to our tables. This exhibit showcases these resources, placed within a larger context of agricultural marketing and purchasing.

The exhibit is divided into 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 identified by the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Project.

There is also an overview of the individual parts of the "local foods" concept and a glossary.

USDA Farmers Market on Friday, Jun 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.

USDA Farmers Market on Friday, Jun 3, 2011 in Washington, DC.

USDA photo by Lance Cheung


Used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

Some of the items featured here were published nearly a century ago. Therefore, please do not assume that all of the content reflects current scientific knowledge, policies, or practices. All views expressed in these items are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the National Agricultural Library.

Unless otherwise indicated, all materials contained in this exhibit are either in the public domain due to copyright expiration or because they are works produced by employees of the U.S. Government as part of their official duties and thus are not copyrighted within the United States.

This exhibit was designed and written by Emily Marsh, Ph.D., MLS. The section on Roadside Stands and Farmers' Markets was written by Kristina Adams, MS.

Please contact NAL if you have any questions about this site.