The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Literature Review of the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Local Food

Ariel Pinchot

With the recent and continued growth in the demand for locally grown food, questions emerge about market characteristics, the capacity of local food systems to support regional economic development, and the economic aspects of the production and consumption of local foods. What do we know about the economics of local and regional food systems? What is the status of research in this arena? The authors and contributors to this report found no comprehensive literature review concentrating solely on the economics of local or regional food system development. We seek to address this literature gap by providing a review and annotation of key publications on the economics of local food system development. Within this subject, we specifically focus on the characteristics of local food markets, local food consumers and motivations for purchases, local food producers and food hubs, and the role of food systems in community and economic development. Potential beneficiaries of this literature review include educators and other academic staff, students, local food advocates, and a range of professionals who participate in local food system development. Structured to highlight key findings from many sources up front, and followed by an annotated bibliography of selected publications, the review is designed to serve as a helpful introduction to recent research on the economics of local foods in the United States. Food system research in the state of Minnesota receives a special focus in this review. 

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