Vermont was recently ranked first among the fifty US states by Strolling of the Heifers in their 2012 Locavore Index. Based in Brattleboro, Vermont, Strolling of the Heifers is a nonprofit organization that works to save farms in New England. According to the organization’s website, the Index is “an indicator of how states compare in their commitment to raising and eating locally grown food.”
The Locavore Index uses data from the USDA, US Census Bureau, and other government sources to measure the per-capita presence of farmers markets and community-supported agricultural enterprises (CSAs) in each US state. According to this year’s Index data, Vermont has 42 farmers markets and CSAs for every 100,000 people living in the state, well ahead of the Index’s runner-up, Iowa, which has 24.
Vermont’s high ranking reflects both a demand from Vermonters for locally grown food and the availability of local food in the state. As Strolling of the Heifers reports, former Vermont secretary of agriculture Roger Allbee believes it reflects even more than that: “Vermont’s position at the top of the Index shows the strength of Vermont’s commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship in local agriculture,” Allbee says.
Consumer interest in eating locally grown food, also known as locavorism, has been increasing since 2005 according to Strolling’s website. Proponents of locavorism say eating locally grown foods is healthier and more environmentally responsible and encourages local job creation and diversification of local agriculture.
Learn more about Strolling of the Heifers’ annual parade and celebration of local agriculture here.