Farmers' markets have figuratively replaced the town square, something we have lost over the last decades due to sprawl and urbanization. In many communities around the country, farmers' markets are where we chat with neighbors, make new connections and find out about the issues at play in our communities. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, there are 7864 farmers' markets operating today -- a 348% increase since 1994. Clearly they are providing value to the American public.
The pace of modern American life is such that we want -- maybe even need -- to boil complex issues down to essential truths. Yet isolating a few specific factors and extrapolating solely from these to proclaim that local food is not eco-friendly, or not a viable solution, is irresponsible. This is not to say that measuring a single issue like carbon emissions as it relates to food production and transportation is not important; it is vitally important.
But, there are many more factors at play -- some very tangible, some less so -- in evaluating the importance of local food. We are literally losing ground in this country, and the role that local food plays in ensuring we are preserving and protecting that ground -- and the communities built on it, the lives lived on it -- should no longer be up for debate.