Eating a local diet——restricting your sources of food to those within, say, 100 miles——seems enviable but near impossible to many, thanks to lack of availability, lack of farmland, and sometimes short growing seasons.
Now, in the June 2015 issue of the scientific journal, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment a study from the University of California, Merced, indicates that it might not be as far-fetched as it sounds.
“Although we find that local food potential has declined over time, our results also demonstrate an unexpectedly large current potential for meeting as much as 90 percent of the national food demand,” write the study’s authors.
Researchers J. Elliott Campbell and Andrew Zumkehr looked at every acre of active farmland in the U.S., regardless of what it’s used for, and imagined that instead of growing soybeans or corn for animal feed or syrup, it was used to grow vegetables. (Currently, only about 2 percent of American farmland is used to grow fruits or vegetables.)
And not just any vegetables: They used the USDA’s recommendations to imagine that all of those acres of land were designed to feed people within 100 miles a balanced diet, supplying enough from each food group.