Per the Union of Concerned Scientists and Citizens and Scientists for Environmental Solutions, public investment in local food systems can strengthen employment, economic development, public health, and the environment in rural communities:
• Selling food directly to consumers is a $1 billion-plus industry for farmers. At least 136,000 U.S. farms sell food to consumers through local food systems including more than 7,000 farmers markets and 4,000 community-supported agriculture (CSA) arrangements (in which consumers buy a share of a farm’s harvest in advance).
• Obesity, which is partly attributable to Americans’ under-consumption of fruits and vegetables relative to other foods, leads to an estimated $147 billion in annual medical costs in the United States. Research shows that shoppers buy more fruits and vegetables at farmers markets than at supermarkets.
• Modest public investment in farmers markets—in the range of $25 million annually—could create up to 13,500 jobs over a five-year period.