Home Volume 3, Issue 3 Measuring Current Consumption of Locally Grown Foods in Vermont: Methods for Baselines and Targets


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Measuring Current Consumption of Locally Grown Foods in Vermont: Methods for Baselines and Targets

by David Conner,a Florence Becot,b * Doug Hoffer,c Ellen Kahler,d Scott Sawyer,d and Linda Berlin e

http://dx.doi.org/10.5304/jafscd.2013.033.004, pp. 83–94

Published online May 17, 2013



Numerous studies have measured the economic impact of increased consumption of locally grown foods, and many advocates have set goals for increasing consumption of locally grown foods to a given percentage. In this paper, we first apply previously developed methods to the state of Vermont, to measure the quantity and value of food that would be consumed if the USDA Dietary Guidelines were followed. We also assess the potential of locally grown foods to meet these guidelines, finding that meeting dietary guidelines with a local, seasonal diet would bring economic benefit, in this case, US$148 million in income for Vermont farmers. A missing piece of information has been: what is the current percentage of locally grown food being consumed in a given city, state, or region? The Farm to Plate Strategic Plan, a 10-year plan for strengthening Vermont's food system, attempted to answer this question. To date, we know of no credible set of methods to precisely measure the percentage of food consumed that is locally grown. We collect data from a variety of sources to estimate current local consumption of food. We were able to measure and account for about US$52 million in local food expenditures, equal to about 2.5% of all food expenditures in Vermont. We then discuss limitations and suggestions for improving measurement methods moving forward.


Keywords: consumption, economic benefits, local food, measuring methods



a Department of Community Development and Applied Economics, University of Vermont, 205H Morrill Hall, Burlington, Vermont 05405 USA


b Center for Rural Studies, University of Vermont, 206 Morrill Hall, Burlington, Vermont 05401 USA


c 161 Austin Drive, #71, Burlington, Vermont 05401 USA


d Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, 3 Pitkin Court, Suite 301e, Montpelier, Vermont 05602 USA

e UVM Center for Sustainable Agriculture and Co-Chair, Sustainable Agriculture Council, 109 Carrigan Drive, Burlington, Vermont 05405 USA


* Corresponding author: Florence Becot; +1-802-656-9897; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Banner photos include a Cape Cod cranberry bog; a cranberry “screen house” used to grade fresh cranberries; farmland near Lake Placid, NY, in the Adirondack Mountains; Montmorency cherry trees on the Mission Peninsula of northern Michigan; the historic Round Barn in the South Mountain Apple Belt of Adams County, Pennsylvania; the “Sea of Grapes” district of the Lake Erie Concord Grape Belt, near Erie, Penn; a field of cabbages near Shortsville, NY, home to one of the world’s largest sauerkraut factories. All photos copyright by Duncan Hilchey.


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