While there is no consensus about how to define "local food systems" in terms of the geographic distance between production and consumption, defining "local" based on marketing arrangements—such as farmers selling directly to consumers at regional farmers' markets or to schools—is well recognized.
ERS research on local food systems:
- explores alternative definitions of local foods,
- estimates market size and reach,
- describes characteristics of local consumers and producers,
- examines the economic and health impacts of local food systems, and
- studies how food environment factors—such as store/restaurant proximity, food prices, food and nutrition assistance programs, and community characteristics—interact to influence food choices and diet quality.