Actions people can take to promote local food systems

What Individuals Can Do
What defines 'local' food? Is it food from one's nation? From one's state or province? From farms within 50 kilometers of your house? When ecologist Gary Nabhan decided to eat locally for a year, he drew the line at 400 kilometers from his house, partly guided by the size of the watershed in which he lived. Nutritionist Joan Gussow suggests trying to buy food produced "within a day's leisurely drive of our homes", a goal "designed to maintain a living countryside".

Regardless of the precise definition, there are several actions people can take to promote local food systems:
  • Learn what foods are in season in your area and try to build your diet around them.
  • Shop at a local farmers' market. People living in areas without a farmers' market might try to start one themselves, linking up with interested neighbors and friends and contacting nearby farmers and agricultural officials for help. People can do the same with CSA subscription schemes.
  • Ask the manager or chef of your favorite restaurant how much of the food on the menu is locally grown, and then encourage him or her to source food locally. Urge that the share be increased. People can do the same at their local supermarket or school cafeteria.
  • Take a trip to a local farm to learn what it produces.
  • Host a harvest party at your home or in your community that features locally available and in-season foods.
  • Produce a local food directory that lists all the local food sources in your area, including CSA arrangements, farmers' markets, food co-ops, restaurants emphasizing seasonal cuisine and local produce, and farmers willing to sell direct to consumers year-round.
  • Buy extra quantities of your favorite fruit or vegetable when it is in season and experiment with drying, canning, jamming, or otherwise preserving it for a later date.
  • Plant a garden and grow as much of your own food as possible.
  • Speak to your local politician about forming a local food policy council to help guide decisions that affect the local foodshed.