Utah Ranks 44th on US Locavore Index
BRATTLEBORO, VT — How does your state stack up against all the others when it comes to availability and consumption of locally-produced foods?
The Vermont-based Strolling of the Heifers local food advocacy group released its second annual Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index, ranking the 50 states and the District of Columbia in terms of their commitment to local foods.
Using recent indicator data from multiple sources, the Index incorporates farmers markets, consumer-supported agriculture operations (CSAs) and food hubs in its per-capita comparison of consumers’ interest in eating locally-sourced foods — also known as locavorism.
The top five states for locavorism, according to the Index, in order, are Vermont (first), Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Iowa, while the bottom five are Texas (last), Florida, Louisiana, Arizona and Nevada. Utah placed 44th compared to other states for their commitment to local foods. Luckily, Utah Farm-Chef-Fork, Slow Food Utah, CSA Utah, Utah's Own, Buy Local First Utah and others are working to improve this.
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.”
Farmers markets are generally cooperative efforts to market locally produced food in a central location where consumers can select and purchase food from multiple farm enterprises.
A CSA is a cooperative agreement between farmers and consumers; consumer buy shares in the farm’s output and have some say in what is grown. When crops come in, they are divided among shareholders according to the volume of their shares, and the rest may be sold at market. CSA farmers get revenue in advance to cover costs of tilling, soil preparation and seed. Shareholders get fresh produce grown locally and contribute to sustainable farming practices.
Food hubs are facilities that handle the aggregation, distribution and marketing of foods from a group of farms and food producers in a region. Food hubs are often cooperatively owned, though many are private enterprises.
The Index used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (its farmers markets database, which is updated monthly, and a food hubs database); the U.S. Census bureau (July 2012 estimates of population); and California-based local food resource directory LocalHarvest (its frequently-updated database of CSAs).
Vermont’s top ranking in the Index reflects both its agricultural heritage and the state’s economic strategies, which place a high priority on initiatives related to food and agriculture.
“Vermont should be proud of its number one ranking, and the leadership role our state is playing in the area of community-supported agriculture,” Vermont Secretary of Agriculture Chuck Ross said. “A strong local food system creates economic opportunities, preserves the working landscape, serves the nutritional needs of a region, and provides a point of connection for the community.”
Ross also noted: “As we look towards the future, there is much more work to do — all the states need to work together to support this critical transformation, which will determine our ability to feed ourselves in the future.”
Index coordinator Martin Langeveld noted that the metrics the Index uses have changed and will continue to change. “Right now, reliable state-by-state data about local food consumption is pretty scarce,” he said. The data from LocalHarvest replaced an older data set used last year, and the food hubs data was used this year for the first time. “Next year,” Langeveld said, “We plan to incorporate more detailed information from the 2012 Census of Agriculture, which is now being processed by the USDA.”
Why local? See USU's Local Food Movement Fact Sheet for specific economic, social, and environmental reasons, as well as ways to support local in UT.
Here is the 2013 Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index ranking of the states. The number in parentheses is the 2012 rank. (Click here to download PDF with full Index data.)
New Hampshire (13)
North Dakota (7)
Rhode Island (24)
South Dakota (8)
West Virginia (11)
District of Columbia (not ranked)
New York (42)
New Mexico (16)
North Carolina (32)
South Carolina (33)
New Jersey (48)
Population 2012 — US Census bureau estimates as of 7/1/2012: http://www.census.gov/popest/data/state/totals/2012/
Farmers Markets as of March 14, 2013: http://search.ams.usda.gov/farmersmarkets/
CSAs as of March 20, 2013: http://www.localharvest.org/
Food hubs as of Jan. 4, 2013: http://www.ams.usda.gov/AMSv1.0/FoodHubs
Weighted score: Farmers Markets 45%, CSAs 45%, Food Hubs 10%
Score per 100,000: Weighted score/(population/100,000)
Download full index data file (PDF)
Story slightly adapted from http://www.strollingoftheheifers.com/locavore-index-2013/