Can Northeast States Grow Their Own Food?

Pennsylvania Farm, photo by Karen Rice

A farm in northern Wayne County, Pennsylvania.

Photo by Karen Rice.

How much of the food eaten in the northeastern United States could be produced regionally? The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced $230,000 in funding to find out.

The grant was awarded as part of the USDA’s new initiative “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food,” which in its first week provided $65 million in support of local and regional food projects across the country through the 2008 Farm Bill.

Food in the United States travels between 1,500 and 2,500 miles from farm to fridge, according to the Worldwatch Institute. Shipping food cross-country leaves a large carbon footprint and is becoming more expensive as transportation costs rise.

U.S. consumer demand for locally grown food is expected to rise from an estimated $4billion in 2002 to as much as $7billion by 2012, according to the USDA.

The Northeast food study will estimate potential crop production along the East Coast to determine where regional food production could meet current and projected demand.

—Laura Kaliebe is a freelance writer based in Seattle.


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