Local food? Jonathan ayala

What is the definition of local food?

The closest thing there is to a definition is from the 2008 Farm Act, which states that "a distance a food can travel to be considered local must be 400 miles or less from its origin, or within the same state". Even with this, many consumers are still confused as to what it is because it is not specific. I believe consumers should become well informed as to what 'local food' means and educating themselves with the benefits of going local.

What is the Consensus?

Sarah DeWeerdt, a freelance writer, claims that the best fit definition would be anything less than 100 miles. To support this, she uses a study done by the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, stating that "more than 2/3 of its respondents agreed that 'local' was within 100 miles of the foods origin point."

The Problem with the Consensus?

The problem is that most businesses do not agree with this. For example, Walmart defines local as anything "grown within the same state" and Whole Foods defines it as anything "grown within 200 miles of the store". The issue with this is the average consumer is not getting what they believe to be 'local' and instead are being deceived.

The Benefits

The Environment

A benefit of local foods is that the process in which they're made and transported uses emits less greenhouse gases than conventional shipped food. Jeremy Philipson, Director of Research at the School of Agriculture in Newcastle University, urges for consumers to switch to shopping local foods because the distance traveled is less than that of shipped food. He believes that if consumers stopped buying shipped foods, the need to make them would decrease, also decreasing the emissions from shipped foods. Freelance writer Sarah DeWeerdt also stated that local food advocates, or locavores, are big in helping the environment because they emphasize seasonal eating and eating less processed foods.

The Local Community

In a survey done by Lydia Zepeda and David Deal, both from the Department of Consumer Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, most local food shoppers were community driven and had a strong desire to support their local community. Local food shoppers would purchase local products from either grocery stores or from farmer's markets, and by buying food that was produced locally, the money would be going straight to the farmer and "not to the 4 middle men taking the money," as one respondent stated.

Why Do Many Even Consider Local?

The Perception of Local Farmers

In the previously mentioned survey by Lydia Zepeda and David Deal, they found that people go for local foods because they perceive the farmers as kindhearted people. They've associated a local farmer with qualities of honesty, trustworthiness, and caring, those of which are not found in big businesses. They also believe the manner in which they treat their livestock and coworkers are well. One consumer said that he only bought a specific kind of milk because he knew the farmer treated the cows. He stated, " I feel that the milk is the same. But I care about the cows so I am willing to pay for that type of milk".


Where most local food shoppers see local farmers as honest, trusting, and caring, they view corporations the exact opposite. In a study by Amanda Ruth-McSwain, an Associates Professor in the Department of Communications at the College of Charleston, the local food consumers stood for uncommercialized food. They believed that, unlike the local farmers, corporations did not care about the consumers. They believed that the big corporations had also no care for the environment and that "they obtained the poorest quality products for cheap to make the most profit, even if it did not benefit the customers".


Organic vs Local

The difference between local foods and organic foods is that organic foods have a specific set of standards, as stated by Julie Schmit from USA Today. One standard that local foods do not need to abide by is being pesticide free, meaning that local foods could contain harmful chemicals from possible pesticides.

Health Risks?

As mentioned before, local foods do not have a specific set of standards, leaving them not as safe as consumers might think. Another factor that makes local foods possibly unsafe is local farmers not acquiring food safety audits. A food safety audit is, in layman's terms, where a professional inspects the food and its production method to make sure it is acceptable. In an article by the Global Food Safety Resource, they state that, "food safety audits are a crucial component of maintaining food safety standards and certification, by providing transparency and assurance that standards are being maintained.” The main reason local farmers cannot acquire these audits is because it is too expensive.


Created with images by Blackzett - "apple market fruit" • hanu04110 - "olives eat food" • musthaqsms - "sunset landscape silhouette" • Heather McCall - "market day" • rottonara - "farmer smile man" • SD-Pictures - "industry sunrise sky" • Rusty Clark - On the Air M-F 8am-noon - "Lily's Organic Produce" • amissphotos - "airplane crop duster dangerous"

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