Measuring Current Consumption of Locally Grown Foods in Vermont: Methods for Baselines and Targets

  • David Conner University of Vermont
  • Florence Becot University of Vermont
  • Doug Hoffer
  • Ellen Kahler Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
  • Scott Sawyer Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
  • Linda Berlin University of Vermont; Sustainable Agriculture Council
Keywords: Consumption, Economic Benefits, Local Food, Measuring Methods


Numerous 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.

Author Biographies

David Conner, University of Vermont
Associate Professor, Department of Community Development and Applied Economics.
Florence Becot, University of Vermont
Center for Rural Studies, University of Vermont, 206 Morrill Hall, Burlington, Vermont 05401 USA.
Doug Hoffer
161 Austin Drive, #71, Burlington, Vermont 05401 USA.
Ellen Kahler, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Executive Director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, 3 Pitkin Court, Suite 301e, Montpelier, Vermont 05602 USA.
Scott Sawyer, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund
Sustainability Director, Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, 3 Pitkin Court, Suite 301e, Montpelier, Vermont 05602 USA.
Linda Berlin, University of Vermont; Sustainable Agriculture Council

Director, Center for Sustainable Agriculture; Co-chair, Sustainable Agriculture Council.

UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Co-Chair, Sustainable Agriculture Council, 109 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, Vermont 05405 USA.

Open Call Papers