Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based organization committed to strengthening local food systems, recently released its 2013 Locavore Index. (Thanks for the tip, R!) The index compiles data on factors like number of farmers’ markets and CSAs in all 50 states (plus Washington, D.C.), adjusts those factors by the population of a given state, and ranks the resulting scores. Vermont (coincidence?) tops the list, and Texas comes in dead last. I was happy and not at all surprised to see that my adopted state of Wisconsin ranks highly at #9. By a 7-figure margin, it also has the largest population of the states in the top 10, which means not only do we have a lot of locavore goodness on a per capita basis, we also have a lot of locavore goodness period, including nearly 300 farmers’ markets.
As the news release details,
Strolling of the Heifers executive director Orly Munzing said the purpose of the Index is to encourage local food efforts in every state. “There are so many ways to do that,” she said, “not just with farmers markets and CSAs, but by supporting Farm-To-School programs, urging local hospitals and nursing homes to purchase local foods, asking supermarkets to buy from local farms, and of course, celebrating and honoring our farmers whenever we can.”
The post also articulates some of the reasons why local foods and farms are worth supporting; here’s just a sampling:
• Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture, which reduces the reliance on monoculture — single crops grown over a wide area to the detriment of soils.
• Local foods build local economies by circulating food dollars locally and creating local jobs by supporting family farms and local food processing and distribution systems
• Local foods promote agritourism — farmers markets and opportunities to visit farms and local food producers help draw tourists to a region.