Keeping Food Dollars at Home. What’s Behind the Local Multiplier?

Intuitively, the benefit of spending food dollars locally is fairly obvious – right? More dollars circulating locally means greater support to local businesses for a healthier community economy. Simple enough, but in explaining the local multiplier to local food advocates and policy-makers, things can get complicated fast.
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Can Big Food Be Local Food?

So can local be big? Before I answer that question, it might be a good idea to revisit what we mean by local. Some good food policy advocates (including me) are substituting the term “community-based” for “local” to signify that local food systems are based on relationships rooted in place.
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The Right Price for Good Food – Part 3: From the Consumer’s Perspective

In The Right Price for Good Food – Part 1, I proposed that the right price for good food depends on whom you’re asking, which may possibly explain why discussions around food prices are so lively. In The Right Price for Good Food – Part 2, I looked at the issue from the farmer’s perspective; today I examine it from the consumer’s perspective.
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The Right Price for Good Food - Part 2: From the Farmer’s Perspective

Most people who care about good food are at least somewhat aware that the (mostly small) farms which grow good food scrape by financially while farm bill subsidies go to large commodity farms. In this second of three pieces on food prices, our local food systems economist, Viki Sonntag, explores how these subsidies shape market prices and in turn our product choices.
Read more: The Right Price for Good Food – Part 2: From the Farmer’s Perspective

The Right Price for Good Food - Part 1

Whether the price is right depends on whom you’re asking, which may possibly explain why discussions around food prices are so lively. It’s almost gotten to the point that we have a tug of war going on between food producers and consumers around what should dictate price, especially now that prices are rising.
Read more: The Right Price for Good Food – Part 1

Are Food Hubs the Next Big Thing?

The need for aggregating and marketing services is especially great with new and transition farmers. New farmers are challenged to learn the business side of farming while dealing with setting up farm systems. Mid-sized farmers who would like to transition to local markets deal in greater volumes than are typical of direct sales markets. Food hubs can serve these needs.
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Portland OR: Food Cart Heaven

When a new food experience takes off in a neighboring city, capturing the fancy of foodies, city planners and researchers alike, we might well ask – why there and not here? Such is the case with Portland’s food carts, the new standard for cultural creativity and entrepreneur-driven economic development.
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Local Food and the Paradox of Choice

How fundamental is choice to growing a sustainable food economy? In fact, fewer product choices make local alternatives to industrial production viable. Choice at one level of a system might result in less choice at other levels.
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Crowdfunding the Future of Food

How many great ideas for starting or expanding small community-based food businesses have gone languishing for lack of access to capital – even relatively small amounts? One of the frustrations in growing our regional food economies has been the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules preventing most Americans (all but the richest 2%) from investing in small, local enterprises.

Unless a business can afford $50,000 to $100,000 (or more) to spend on lawyers to prepare private placement memoranda or public offerings, it is effectively prohibited from soliciting funds from private investors in return for a stake in the business. Yet, often it is a budding entrepreneur’s friends, family and community who would love to pitch in to help launch a local company.
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The Next Job Generator

With the pressure on to create employment in a faltering economy, local food systems are drawing interest as a possible source of green jobs. But just how many is still a guess. A recent study for the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture by a University of Iowa economist takes a stab at estimating the economic value and employment impact of increasing fruit and vegetable production to satisfy local demand in the six Midwest states of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
Read more: The Next Job Generator