Is local food good for the economy? Looking at the full picture

12 June 2018

One of the motivations of the local food movement is to develop buoyant regional economies that provide jobs for the local people and enable local farmers to stay in business. So, is buying local food good for the economy?

This is the question raised by two academic papers published in 2017 by scholars from the University of Idaho. The papers present a methodology to calculate the economic contribution of local food systems to a given economy and urge to go further than existing, short-sighted analysis. Moreover, they point to the fact that local food advocates should focus on identifying and quantifying externalities associated with local food systems rather than trying to assess their overall economic impacts.

They find that it is only by carefully comparing the externalities of local and global food systems, and systematically asking the question 'what if local food activities did not exist?' question, that we can figure out what the right balance between local and global food systems is.

Urban Food Futures have summarised the findings of the studies


Leon Ballin
Sustainable Food Cities

Sustainable Food Cities is a partnership programme run by

Soil Association

Food Matters

Esmée Fairbairn Foundation
Sustainable Food Cities is funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation