What is “local food”? While there is no direct definition for the term “local food”, it could be summed up as simply buying from local food/farmers markets and the CSA, Community Supported Agriculture. Consumers define local food by driving distance; farmers markets, for instance, are undoubtedly considered local food. Vendors are governed by highly enforced laws confining vendors to local farmers, and also growing produce themselves. Since 2006, farmer’s markets have had an annual growth rate of 10 percent; right now, there are 3,766 in the United States. (U.S. Department of Agriculture 2005, 2006). Fuel prices are a key factor in food price increase, since “produce consumption by consumers has been proven as price-sensitive...” (usda.gov). A hike in fuel prices could prove to lower produce purchasing in the short-term. There are a few factors between the correlation of increasing fuel-prices, and the distance traveled to point of origin: transportation method, perishability, and seasonality (usda.gov). Transportation by truck is the most expensive method of the three, as the length of distance needed to travel increases, so does the cost according to fuel cost. Studies show that the mean length food travels is 15,000 miles. Companies have taken full advantage of the price-to-distance relationship. With the lack of regulation by the authority to monitor the actual cost to deliver, companies have a free-run to charge what they please. Seasonal produce would be hit the hardest with price hikes because of fuel increases, while year-round produce would have more constant prices. Purchasing produce locally cuts the usage of petroleum. “One-fifth of all petroleum used in the United States is used in agriculture”
In the 1950’s, agriculture transfigured into what was called “The Green Revolution”, which industrialized agriculture. According to Kindell and Pimentel, the Green Revolution increased world grain production by 250 percent, the energy flow to agriculture by an average of 50 times the energy input of traditional agriculture (Pfeiffer organicconsumers.org). To go into more detail about the extremeness of todays’ agriculture practices, manufacturing of one kilogram of nitrogen for fertilizer requires the energy equivalent of from 1.4 to 1.8 liters of diesel fuel. Researchers Pimentel and Giampietro found that between 1945 and 1994, energy input to agriculture increased 4-fold while crop yields only increased 3-fold (Pfeiffer organicconsumers.org). With energy input not correlating with energy output, return is little to none. Unfortunately, because of food consumption demands, energy used for agricultural demands must continue.
Agriculture directly accounts for 17% of all the energy used in this country (Pfeiffer organicconsumers.org). It takes 10Kcal of exsomatic energy to produce 1Kcal of food for...