The Real Deal Research Report
The 1LOCAL Index is a product of The Real Deal project, featuring research conducted January to June 2014 by staff at Crossroads Resource Center, Farmers Market Coalition, FoodRoutes Network, LLC, and the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture, to better understand the issues and needs of consumers, producers, farmers markets, and retailers related to defining local foods in the marketplace. Using multiple methods including a literature review, focus groups, surveys, and in-depth interviews, we investigated the following research questions:
- What are current definitions of local foods used by farms, farmers markets, and food-related businesses, and how are these communicated to consumers?
- What are the most important values embedded in the concept of “local food” and how can these be measured?
- What is the need for and feasibility of a self-assessment tool that measures and helps to communicate a retailer’s engagement within the local food system?
Local Food Research
USDA. “Trends in U.S. Local and Regional Food Systems: A Report to Congress”. 2015.
This report provides an overview of local and regional food systems across several dimensions. It details the latest economic information on local food producers, consumers, and policy, relying on findings from several national surveys and a synthesis of recent literature to assess the current size of and recent trends in local and regional food systems. Data are presented on producer characteristics, survival rates and growth, and prices. Download the report.
Fit Associates, LLC. “Ethnography as a Catalyst for Change: Strengthening the Local Food System in Pittsburgh”. 2008.
Our intent [for this project] was to talk with people from different parts of the local food system, from an anthropological perspective, to learn about their challenges, joys and needs. As we spoke to the farmers, distribution co-operatives, grocery stores, restaurants, and shoppers we found that people are frustrated with the current system, but are not sure how to fix it. We found there is room for growth and we wanted to find a way to help. Our goal is to share what we learned in order to improve the system from all perspectives; to create a sense of understanding within the system, rather than continuing with the same frustrations. We can improve the system by beginning with an effort to understand each other, communicate more efficiently, and better educate our customers. Download the report.
Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture. “Regional Food Infrastructure Network”. 2008.
In 2006, The Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture (PASA), Tripp Umbach, and Image Earth conducted a comprehensive market assessment and strategic planning study for sustainable, local agriculture in Western Pennsylvania. The study covered nineteen counties in Western Pennsylvania and was funded through Pennsylvania’s First Industries Fund Grant program. The overriding goal for the RFIN study was to determine the feasibility of producing value-added food products from local farms and selling those products to consumers in local markets. Download the report.
Masi, B., Schaller, L., Shuman, M.H. “The 25% Shift: The Benefits of Food Localization for Northeast Ohio & How to Realize Them”. 2010.
The study analyzes the impact of the 16-county Northeast Ohio region moving a quarter of the way toward fully meeting local demand for food with local production. It suggests that this 25% shift could create 27,664 new jobs, providing work for about one in eight unemployed residents. It could increase annual regional output by $4.2 billion and expand state and local tax collections by $126 million. It could increase the food security of hundreds of thousands of people and reduce near-epidemic levels of obesity and Type-II diabetes. And it could significantly improve air and water quality, lower the region’s carbon footprint, attract tourists, boost local entrepreneurship, and enhance civic pride. Download the report.
Find Local Food