Up to 90 percent of Americans could be fed entirely by local agriculture
"New farmland-mapping research published today (June 1) shows that up to 90 percent of Americans could be fed entirely by food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes.
Professor Elliott Campbell, with the University of California, Merced, School of Engineering, discusses the possibilities in a study entitled "The Large Potential of Local Croplands to Meet Food Demand in the United States."
The research results are the cover story of the newest edition of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, the flagship journal for the Ecological Society of America, which boasts a membership of 10,000 scientists.
"Elliott Campbell's research is making an important contribution to the national conversation on local food systems," influential author and UC Berkeley professor Michael Pollan said. "That conversation has been hobbled by too much wishful thinking and not enough hard data—exactly what Campbell is bringing to the table."
I am not sure if I consider 100 miles to be local to be fair. I don't quite know where I would say the tipping point would be (for me at least) but it is before 100 miles. There are three different states within about 100 miles of us and we are almost in the smack dab middle of the state.
I use to get on my landlord who sold "local honey" that was 40 miles away, so perhaps I am too picky.
I've never really understood the 100 miles limit either. It would make more sense to me if local were measured by travel time - would you be able to visit the place that grew/raised the food within a day's voyage by human-powered transport? (walking, bicycle, pogo stick.) I'm really happy to now be living in a place where there is a lot more local fruit and vegtables, but the trade off seems to be nearly non-existent grains and dairy.
Still, the point of the article seems good. Even if we think 100 miles is still too far, it's better then 1000 miles.
Location: western pennsylvania zone 5/a
posted 4 years ago
I think what's important is growing things as near to market as possible
and the jobs this will provide to say, I don't know, maybe some energetic permies
the article and other like it, may help some get the backing for local farms
" If California were to disappear, what would the American diet be like?
Expensive and grainy. California produces a sizable majority of many American fruits, vegetables, and nuts: 99 percent of artichokes, 99 percent of walnuts, 97 percent of kiwis, 97 percent of plums, 95 percent of celery, 95 percent of garlic, 89 percent of cauliflower, 71 percent of spinach, and 69 percent of carrots (and the list goes on and on). Some of this is due to climate and soil. No other state, or even a combination of states, can match California’s output per acre. Lemon yields in California, for example, are more than 50 percent higher than in Arizona. California spinach yield per acre is 60 percent higher than the national average. Without California, supply of all these products in the United States and abroad would dip, and in the first few years, a few might be nearly impossible to find. Orchard-based products in particular, such as nuts and some fruits, would take many years to spring back"
It's too bad the actual article is behind a pay wall since it seems that you could easily shift that 90% number up or down depending on what criteria you set. If you set the requirement that people do not have to change their diets, then that number would probably be in the single digits. You can get to the low teens simply with the 83% of adults that drink coffee. If you have greenhouses, artificial lighting, and complete control of peoples' diets, then I don't see why that number cannot be 100%. (The greenhouses in Barrow, AK would be very well insulated).
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.
posted 4 years ago
When I run the math... It takes about twice as much fuel per pound of food to move a pickup truck of vegetables, from my garden to the farmer's market 11 miles away, as it does to move a semi-truck load of broccoli 750 miles from Watsonville California to the grocery store in my village. My truck goes home from market empty... The semi is full of beef for the return trip.
My farmer's market has a 50 mile limit on transporting vegetables, so that includes my valley and the agricultural areas of two nearby valleys.
If I lived on my farm, I wouldn't go into the farmer's market. I'd make people pick their vegetables up at the farm.
Around here, it's tough to grow vegetables for market, because the bishop requires (strongly recommends) that the faithful have gardens. That tradition has existed in my community for as long as anyone now living can remember. There are many believers, and the non-believers are descended from believers so that teaching got instilled into the whole community. I think that there is about 8X more space devoted to growing vegetables in small gardens in my community than the market growers are planting. Those small gardens could easily be converted into large gardens.