Local Food Is Here To Stay, Seriously

The Lempert Report
February 24, 2016

What one professor is saying about local food

Local has staying power to remain as one of the leading trends in food and in our supermarkets. And although you may wonder just how certain parts of the country could produce local foods, UC Merced professor Elliot Campbell says, "Most areas of the country could feed between 80 percent and 100 percent of their populations with food grown or raised within 50 miles."

His research study appeared as the cover story of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the journal of the Ecological Society of America – "The Large Potential of Local Croplands to Meet Food Demand in the United States" – and  immediately generated comments about the importance of the study in filling a research gap about local food.

Campbell created a map showing the indices of people who could eat locally in all areas of the country 

While he said in an interview with Phys.org that the overall result was very positive and his research is showing that local “is not something limited to Portland or San Francisco (obviously referencing areas that are prone to greater understanding and levels of foodism and sustainability) but that the local food movement could take off more broadly.” According to him, the local food movement…it's actually making vegetables exciting! There are local meats and cheeses, too. But it's pretty extraordinary that the local food movement has redirected people to plants.”

One key to local food successes, according to Campbell, is how we use biofuels – which are protective or – or harmful to land that is going to be used to produce feedstock. He says that there is a problem using the land currently producing our foods as it will create a competition between food for consumption and food for fuel; which is why it is critical to explain exactly what bio-fuels are and are not. 

When asked what keeps him up at night worrying? His answer is simple:“Agriculture is a big driver of climate change; it contributes to the emission of green house gasses in a huge way. And simultaneously, agriculture will suffer the consequences of climate change. We will have a harder time providing food for the world in the future.

The solution? Not so simple.