Researchers Prove that Becoming A Nation of Local Eaters Is Not Impossible


The local food movement in the U.S. has often been dismissed as a dream-child of idealists. Critics point out that it’s not realistic to think that our cities can grow and raise the amount of local food it will take to support dense urban populations within our country. Widespread “Locavorisim,” therefore, has been written off by the mainstream as the far-fetched fantasy of a few.

How do you like these apples?! Luckily for us (the few), the local food movement has just received a scientific seal of approval. According to a new study from University of California Davis, it is quite possible that the majority of Americans (90 percent in fact) could sustain their normal diet while receiving their food from within a 100-mile radius. 

If this bit of science is corroborated, it certainly is a win-win for our country. Not only do local food systems keep our carbon footprint down by making it unnecessary to ship food thousands of miles, they also helps support the local economy while increasing food security.

Researchers conducting the study carefully considered the kinds of food as well as the amount of calories standard in an average American diet. After determining what constituted being “local,” they used this combined information to make their overall calculations.

According to a recent article in Quartz,

The researchers found that based on population data from the year 2000, up to 82 percent of people in the US could eat a standard American diet with food from within 50 miles of home. That proportion goes up to 85 percent for a vegetarian diet, and down to 80 percent for a meat-intensive diet. If the foodshed radius expands to 100 miles, the potential for a standard American diet goes up to 90 percent, 93 percent for a vegetarian diet, and 88 percent for a meat-intensive diet.”

This is wonderful news—especially for urban dwellers within larger cities such as San Francisco and Boston where potentially 100 percent of their population can be fed locally. However, the study concludes that cities without nearby croplands, such as New York City and Los Angeles. would not fare quite so well. Even an area such as Los Angeles could still feed 50 percent of its population with foods grown within a 100-mile radius.

It's all good food-for-thought for local food dreamers. 

Image via Flickr


Read all articles by Juniper Briggs

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