Whether its being sold at your local farmer's market or in your nearby grocery store, "local food" now represents big business. A new report from the USDA finds the local food industry generated $4.8 billion in sales during 2008 and estimates that sales could top $7 billion this year.
Some find the results controversial because there is no commonly agreed upon definition for what constitutes "local." Direct sales to consumers have risen from $650,000 during the 1990s to $1.2 billion in 2008. Farmer's markets around the country have exploded, up from 2,756 in 1998 to 5,274 in 2009.
“There’s real demand in the market for people wanting to know where their food is coming from, that it’s going through local channels," farmer Paul Gnaedinger said.