Measuring Current Consumption of Locally Grown Foods in Vermont: Methods for Baselines and Targets
AbstractNumerous studies have measured the economic impact of increased consumption of locally grown foods, and many advocates have set goals for increasing consumption of locally grown foods to a given percentage. In this paper, we first apply previously developed methods to the state of Vermont, to measure the quantity and value of food that would be consumed if the USDA Dietary Guidelines were followed. We also assess the potential of locally grown foods to meet these guidelines, finding that meeting dietary guidelines with a local, seasonal diet would bring economic benefit, in this case, US$148 million in income for Vermont farmers. A missing piece of information has been: what is the current percentage of locally grown food being consumed in a given city, state, or region? The Farm to Plate Strategic Plan, a 10-year plan for strengthening Vermont's food system, attempted to answer this question. To date, we know of no credible set of methods to precisely measure the percentage of food consumed that is locally grown. We collect data from a variety of sources to estimate current local consumption of food. We were able to measure and account for about US$52 million in local food expenditures, equal to about 2.5% of all food expenditures in Vermont. We then discuss limitations and suggestions for improving measurement methods moving forward.
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