Local foods contribute to thriving communities! When you shop for local foods, you can meet the people who care about you, face to face: your friends and neighbors, and the farmers who grow your food.
Local food is a connector. When you buy local, food shopping becomes less of a chore and more of an opportunity to explore your community (while still getting the food shopping done!).
Purchasing locally grown food keeps our food dollars circulating in our community, rather than sending them to distant corporations. Locally grown food sales can have a notable impact on local economies because of the multiplier effect: the number of times a dollar circulates in a community before leaving through the purchase of an import. Here’s how it works: You purchase a product from a local farmer. The farmer then uses a portion of that money to hire employees, and buy products and services from other local businesses. Those local businesses use a portion of the money on more employees, local purchases and services, and so on.
The specific multiplier for food-related farming activities in the Lehigh Valley is 1.449 (IMPLAN calculation by Penn State University in 2014). In other words, every dollar received by food-related farms in the Lehigh Valley generates on average an additional 45 cents in economic activity. In comparison, a Maine study found that national chain stores yield a return of just 14 cents to the local economy, usually as low-wage service jobs. Buying locally grown food provides three times more investment in our Lehigh Valley economy!
Not only that, but more than half of the people who shop at farmers markets say they also make purchases at other downtown businesses when they visit a market.
The $10 Solution
Here in the Greater Lehigh Valley $3.5 billion per year on food. Less than 1%, however, is purchased directly from our local farms. In other words, the majority of our food dollars are leaving the Lehigh Valley when we purchase food imports. Once these dollars leave, they are unlikely to return.
There is a tremendous opportunity to capture some of these food dollars and keep them circulating in our community and creating new jobs.
Currently, households on average are spending less than a dollar a week on local foods. If each GLV household spent just $10 per week on food produced in our community, it would generate $207 million for our local farms and $93 million for local businesses. In total, it would add an extra $300 million to our local economy.
And we would enjoy the added benefit of eating fresher, tastier, healthier food.