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.