Local foods are marketed through direct sales to consumers (e.g., CSAs, farmers’ markets, on-farm stores, or pick-your-own), food hubs, grocery stores, restaurants, schools, and other outlets.
Benefits to the community include: support for local farmers, job creation, economic diversification, attracting reinvestment and growth, keeping food dollars within the local economy, and reducing food insecurity.
Learn about local foods through NAL collection items, exhibits, and selected external links to information.
Local Food Resources
Local Food Systems
ATTRA. The National Sustainable Agriculture Information Service.
Local Food Research and Development
AMS. United States Department of Agriculture.
USDA. Economic Research Service.
ERS conducts research and issues reports on the economic and marketing aspects of local food systems, and more.
Local Foods College
University of Minnesota. University of Minnesota Extension.
The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices
USDA. Agricultural Marketing Service.
Comprised of seven modules, the Toolkit covers food system planning, assessment and evaluation.
Relevant Legal Issues
Local Food Systems
National Agricultural Law Center.
Agricultural Law Information Partnership.
Cottage Food Laws in the United States
Harvard Law School Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation.
Data and Policy
2020 Local Food Marketing Practices Survey. Census of Agriculture.
USDA. National Agricultural Statistics Service.
The purpose of the second Survey "is to produce benchmark data about local food marketing practices."
The Role of Local Food Systems in U.S. Farm Policy (pdf | 950 KB)
U.S. Congressional Research Service.
Data to Support a Thriving and Informed Local and Regional Food Sector
Part of a USDA, AMS funded project on Local and Regional Food Systems Response to Covid: Recovery and Resilience
Mailboxes, Mom and Pop Stands, and Markets: Local Foods Then and Now
The National Agricultural Library 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.
Search the NAL Collection
Access to Research Articles
Defining Local Food
An Analysis of State Approaches and Challenges.
USDA Local Food Directories
Agritourism, CSAs, farms, farmers markets, food hubs, and more.