With interest growing in local food systems as a community development tool, scholars and practitioners are looking for methods to count progress toward benchmarks. A new article, Counting Local Food Consumption: Longitudinal Data and Lessons from Vermont, released by the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD) reports on efforts to count local food consumption as part of Vermont’s statewide strategic plan for food systems development. Authors of the article include David Conner, Community Development and Applied Economics associate professor at the University of Vermont; Florence Becot of the Ohio State University; Ellen Kahler, executive director at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund (VSJF); Jake Claro Farm to Plate director at VSJF; and Annie Harlow, executive committee at Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN).
The article provides longitudinal data from three waves of counting (2011, 2014, and 2017), and finds increases over time due to both increased food consumption and improved counting methods. The paper reflects on successes and challenges over the study period, focusing on data availability, key assumptions, and limitations. It concludes with future directions of inquiry into measuring food relocalization efforts.
Photo courtesy of Pete's Greens.