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How locavore is your state?

Vermont, Maine, Montana and Oregon maintain lead as the most locavore of all states

BRATTLEBORO, VT (May 25, 2018) — America’s locavorism leaders are the states of Vermont, Maine, Montana and Oregon, in that order, according to the 2018 Locavore Index, which is researched and compiled by Strolling of the Heifers, a non-profit food advocacy organization based in Vermont.

Rounding out the top 10 in the seventh annual Index, in order, are New Hampshire, Massachusetts, the District of Columbia, Hawaii, Wisconsin and Rhode Island. Vermont has led the Index since its inception in 2012. 

Strolling of the Heifers is presenting its annual Strolling of the Heifers Weekend in Brattleboro, Vt., June 1-3, with its famous agriculturally-themed parade — featuring, of course, scores of impeccably groomed heifer calves on the town’s historic Main Street.

Since its first parade in 2002, the organization has grown to include multiple components dedicated to supporting family farms, promoting the consumption of local foods, and encouraging entrepreneurship in the farm and food sectors.

“Vermont’s farmers and producers are helping to grow our economy. Agriculture creates thousands of jobs for Vermonters and it also provides us with fresh food.” said Anson Tebbetts, Secretary of Vermont’s Agency of Agriculture, Food, and Markets. “We are lucky to live in a state where Vermonters value the hard work that’s being done on our farms, fields and factories.”

“Strolling of the Heifers is all about the idea that growing and consuming local food is better for everyone.” says Orly Munzing, executive director of Strolling of the Heifers, “The Locavore Index is how we track and encourage more efforts in every state to spread the benefits of healthy local foods and strong local food systems.”

 

(For the full data set on which the Index is based, including ranking formulas, download this Excel sheet.)

A new component of the Index this year is the per-capita value of a set of U.S. Department of Agriculture grants focused on local food. These are the USDA’s Local Food Program Promotion Grants, Specialty Crop Block Grants, Farmers Markets Promotion Grants, and Farm-to-School Grants. All states received funding from at least some of these programs, which totaled $112 million nationally.

On the strength of their grant funding, several states made significant moves toward the top of the Index this year: West Virginia, from 23rd to 14th; North Dakota, from 25th to 19th; and Arkansas, from 45th to 35th.

“We continue to seek out better, more reliable data to use in the Index,” said Martin Langeveld, principal researcher and compiler of the Index. “And we’re encouraged that the USDA has maintained a strong program of grants focused on local and specialty foods.”

Along with the USDA grants data, the 2018 Index also incorporates updated information on the number of farmers markets, the number of CSAs, the number of food hubs — all compared on a per-capita basis.

The index continues to include data from the USDA’s Census of Agriculture, including data on the dollar volume of direct-to-the-public food sales by farmers. But since this Census data has not been updated since 2012, its weight within the Index has been reduced. A new Census of Agriculture took place 2017, but data is not expected to be released until early 2019. A final component reflects local food commitments made by hospitals in each state.

Strolling of the Heifers offers 10 reasons for people to increase their use of local foods, stressing that local foods are more sustainable, healthier, better for the environment and economically positive than foods sourced from large-scale, globalized food systems.

Strolling of the Heifers’ 10 reasons to consume more local foods:

  1. Supports local farms: Buying local food keeps local farms healthy and creates local jobs at farms and in local food processing and distribution systems.
  2. Boosts local economy: Food dollars spent at local farms and food producers stay in the local economy, creating more jobs at other local businesses.
  3. Less travel: Local food travels much less distance to market than typical fresh or processed grocery store foods, therefore using less fuel and generating less greenhouse gases.
  4. Less waste: Because of the shorter distribution chains for local foods, less food is wasted in distribution, warehousing and merchandising.
  5. More freshness: Local food is fresher, healthier and tastes better, because it spends less time in transit from farm to plate, and therefore loses fewer nutrients and incurs less spoilage.
  6. New and better flavors in each season: When you commit to buy more local food, you’ll discover interesting new foods, tasty new ways to prepare food, and a new appreciation of the pleasure of each season’s foods.
  7. Good for the gene pool and the soil: Local food encourages diversification of local agriculture which preserves genetic diversity and reduces the reliance on monoculture — single crops grown over a wide area to the detriment of soils.
  8. Attracts tourists: Local foods promote agritourism — farmers markets and opportunities to visit farms and local food producers help draw tourists to a region.
  9. Preserves open space: Buying local food helps local farms survive and thrive, keeping land from being redeveloped into suburban sprawl.
  10. Builds more connected communities: Local foods create more vibrant communities by connecting people with the farmers and food producers who bring them healthy local foods. As customers of CSAs and farmers markets have discovered, they are great places to meet and connect with friends as well as farmers!

The Components of the Index are:

  • Farmers markets, which are generally cooperative efforts to market locally produced food in a central location where consumers can select and purchase food from multiple farm enterprises. The Index ranks farmers markets on a per-capita basis.
  • CSAs (consumer-supported agriculture), which are cooperative agreements between farmers and consumers; consumers buy shares in a 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. CSAs are included in the Index on a per-capita basis for each state.
  • Farm-to-School programsin which schools buy and feature locally produced, farm-fresh foods. Participating schools usually also add nutrition, culinary and food science components to their curriculum, and may experiential learning opportunities such as farm visits, school gardens and composting. The Index includes includes, for each stage, both the percentage of school districts which have farm-to-school programs, and the average percentage of district food budgets spent on local food.
  • Food hubs, which 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. Food hubs are also included on a per-capita basis.
  • Local Food Program Promotion Grants, Specialty Crop Block Grants, Farmers Markets Promotion Grants, and Farm-to-School Grants are given by the USDA to help communities scale up local and regional food systems and strengthen their economies. They include funding for food hubs, farmers markets, individual farmers, farm cooperatives, schools and other entities. The Index ranks states on a per-capita basis for the total amount of grants received by each state.
  • The number of hospitals that have pledged to source food locally whenever possible, either through the Healthy Food in Health Care program or the Healthier Hospitals Food Challenge, ranked on a per-capita basis.
  • Direct-to-the-public food sales revenue at farms, including sales via farmstands, farmers markets, CSAs and online sales, calculated on a per-capita basis for each state.

Sources for the data used in the Index are listed in the Index graphic on this page.

The Index is calculated as the weighted average ranking in all of the component categories. The weighting is as follows: farmers markets per 100,000 — 15 percent; CSAs per 100,000 — 15 percent; Farm to School (product of participation rate and budget percentage) — 10 percent; Food Hubs per 100,000 — 5 percent; direct sales per capita — 20 percent; USDA local food grants per capita 25 percent; and hospitals sourcing food locally 10 percent. The full data set spreadsheet with formulas is available at www.strollingoftheheifers.com/locavoreindex.

About Strolling of the Heifers:

Strolling of the Heifers is a farm and food advocacy and economic development organization based in Brattleboro, Vermont, building a record, since 2002, of spotlighting the benefits of strong local food systems and encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in farm and food businesses. While Strolling of the Heifers is best-known for a whimsical weekend of events built around an agriculturally-themed parade, featuring well-groomed heifer calves led by future farmers that takes place this year June 1-3, the organization has focused its year-round programs on economic development work in the farm and food sectors, with the specific goal of creating jobs by working to foster small business entrepreneurship. It does this through Windham Grows, a business accelerator that aims to build the food and agriculture sector by connecting startup and early-stage businesses with critical services, resources and financing; the Slow Living Summit, an annual farm/food entrepreneurship conference; and the Farm-to-Table Culinary Apprenticeship Program, which trains under-employed individuals for careers in the culinary field.

On the web: www.StrollingoftheHeifers.comwww.SlowLivingSummit.org, www.WindhamGrows.org.

For further information about the Index, please contact Martin Langeveld, Strolling of the Heifers —newsafternewspapers@gmail.com or 802-380-0226.

For information on the prior year Indexes, visit these pages:

Here is the 2018 Strolling of the Heifers Locavore Index ranking of the states (with the 2017 rank in parentheses):

  1. Vermont (1)
  2. Maine (2)
  3. Montana (4)
  4. Oregon (3)
  5. New Hampshire (5)
  6. Massachusetts (7)
  7. District of Columbia (8)
  8. Hawaii (9)
  9. Wisconsin (6)
  10. Rhode Island (10)
  11. Washington (11)
  12. Idaho (17)
  13. Minnesota (12)
  14. West Virginia (23)
  15. Iowa (18)
  16. Michigan (13)
  17. South Dakota (19)
  18. Connecticut (15)
  19. North Dakota (25)
  20. Nebraska (16)
  21. Wyoming (20)
  22. Alaska (26)
  23. Pennsylvania (21)
  24. New Mexico (31)
  25. Delaware (30)
  26. South Carolina (27)
  27. California (28)
  28. New York (29)
  29. Maryland (14)
  30. Colorado (33)
  31. Kentucky (38)
  32. Virginia (22)
  33. Ohio (24)
  34. North Carolina (37)
  35. Arkansas (45)
  36. Indiana (32)
  37. Mississippi (46)
  38. Missouri (35)
  39. Kansas (42)
  40. Georgia (43)
  41. Tennessee (39)
  42. New Jersey (41)
  43. Illinois (44)
  44. Alabama (51)
  45. Utah (34)
  46. Oklahoma (47)
  47. Florida (48)
  48. Arizona (50)
  49. Puerto Rico (36)
  50. Louisiana (40)
  51. Nevada (49)
  52. Texas (52)