Iowa ranks 14th nationally on local food index

(Strolling of the Heifers)
(Strolling of the Heifers)
Nick Fetty | May 18, 2016

Iowa ranks 14th nationally for its commitment to locally-grown food, according to the recently released Locavore Index for 2016.

The fifth annual Locavore Index was released last week by Strolling of the Heifers, a Vermont-based, non-profit food advocacy organization. The index weighed several criteria to evaluate each state’s commitment to local foods including number of farmers markets (15 percent), number of community support agriculture (CSA) programs (15 percent), number of farm-to-school programs (15 percent), number of food hubs (5 percent), direct sales per capita (30 percent), and number of Know your Farmer, Know your Food grants (20 percent). The report used data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Census bureau, and the California-based local food resource directory LocalHarvest.

Vermont took the top spot on the 2016 list for the fifth consecutive year. The Hawkeye State fell one spot from its ranking of 13th in the 2015 index and four spots from its 10th place finish in 2014. Iowa’s highest ranking came in 2012 when it finished second.

Two University of Iowa researchers used data from the 2015 Locavore Index to study local food in Iowa. Sara Rynes, a professor in the UI’s Tippie College of Business, and Ion Vasi, a CGRER member with joint appointments in the College of Business and the Department of Sociology, released “The Resurgence of the Locavore: The Growth of Local Food Markets in the United States” last year. Their study examined farmers markets and other local food initiatives in Iowa City, Cedar Rapids, and other communities in Iowa and how the concept of a “moral market” can influence a consumers’ behavior.

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