Worldwatch Institute

Home Grown: The Case For Local Food In A Global Market


Everyone, everywhere depends increasingly on long-distance food. Encouraged by food processing innovations, cheap oil, and subsidies, since 1961 the value of global trade in food has tripled and the tonnage of food shipped between nations has grown fourfold, while population has only doubled. In the United States, food typically travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to plate, as much as 25 percent farther than in 1980.

For some, the long-distance food system offers unparalleled choice. But it often runs roughshod over local cuisines, varieties, and agriculture, while consuming staggering amounts of fuel, generating greenhouse gases, eroding the pleasures of face-to-face interactions around food, and compromising food security. Fortunately, the long-distance food habit is beginning to weaken under the influence of a young, but surging, local foods movement. From peanut butter makers in Zimbabwe to pork producers in Germany and rooftop gardeners in Vancouver, entrepreneurial farmers, start-up food businesses, restaurants, supermarkets, and concerned consumers are propelling a revolution that can help restore rural areas, enrich poor nations, and return fresh, delicious and wholesome food to cities.

Authors / Editors:
Print ISSN:
Nov. 2002

Entering the Foodshed
The Transcontinental Lettuce
The Wal-Mart Effect
Making Food Deserts Bloom
Farmers as Entrepreneurs
Taking Back the Market
Rebuilding the Local Foodshed
The Personal Case for Eating Local
Figure 1: Value of World Agricultural Trade, 1961-2000
Figure 2: Volume of World Agricultural Trade, 1961-2000
Figure 3A: Local Versus Imported Ingredients: Iowa
Figure 3B: Local Versus Imported Ingredients: England
Figure 4: Seasonal Availability of a Selection of British Apples
Box 1: Concentration in Various Layers of Agribusiness
Box 2: Farming the Cities
Box 3: Fair Trade: Supporting the Local From Far Away
Box 4: Examples of Local Food Policy Councils and Their Achievements
Box 5: How To Keep a City Fed
Box 6: National and International Policy Changes To Help Rebuild Local Foodsheds
Box 7: What Individuals Can Do

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