Farm-to-table is tough when you’re talking about millions of tables. So it’s good to see philanthropy playing an increasing role in creating sustainable food systems, and also to see how a new USDA program is enlisting a fleet of funders to help the local food movement scale up.
There’s high demand these days for fresh food with a low carbon footprint and a nearby farmer’s name on the crate. According to the USDA, the number of farmers markets has grown by 67 percent since 2008, and local and regional food has become a multibillion-dollar market. With growing city populations, struggling rural economies, and the high carbon footprint of industrial agriculture, the stakes are way higher than supplying urbanites with heirloom tomatoes. Getting local food to work is central to sustainability, equity, and public health.