The Economics of Local Food

The fridge is empty.  Needing to refill the basics, you plan to pop over to the grocery store.  You may pick up vegetable, eggs, maybe dairy products and possibly some meat.

Did you know your next decision can have a substantial economic impact on your community?  Thanks to a recent ground breaking study, we can now measure the exact economic impact of your shopping choice.  And how that choice can impact jobs in the community.

The study conducted in Central Oregon [Rahe 2017] found for every dollar spent on a local food product, $0.76 stays in the community.  Comparatively, each dollar spent on food from outside the region resulted in only $0.28 remaining in the local economy.  That means for every dollar you spend buying from your local farmer or rancher, an additional $0.48 is circulated through your local economy not only fueling jobs, but helping to make your community more resilient to external economic forces.  Why is this?

Among the reasons, small to mid-sized farmers and ranchers tend to purchase their supplies locally.  And their operations are typically more labor intensive than larger mono product operations, which in turn creates more jobs on the farm.  The employment gains don’t stop on the farm.  For every 5 on farm jobs, an additional 2 jobs are created within the community off the farm.

So, take the local food challenge.  Try shifting your buying habits to spend at least 10% of your food dollars on local products purchased direct from producers.  A slight change in habit can add up to a substantial impact on your community.