A new University of California study has revealed that most areas of the U.S. could feed between 80 to 100 percent of the local population with food grown or raised within 50 miles. This is huge news for the local foods movement, which Central Appalachia has embraced practically whole hog as a sector built on local assets that could become central to economic diversification in the region. (Read more, from The Rural Blog)
The study focused on large metropolitan areas and smaller cities, but when looking at a map created by the lead researcher, Elliott Campbell, it’s clear that the highest percentage of people who could eat locally are in the country’s rural areas, with Central Appalachia squarely in the mix (Findings are based on data from the year 2000, the most recent available; but Campbell says data from 2000-2015 will likely yield similar results).
That is good news for the region’s burgeoning local foods movement. The sector is set to become a pillar of eastern Kentucky and Central Appalachia’s economic transition and future, and rightfully so. As former coal miner-turned-farmer Todd Howard once said, “The only thing we’ve done longer in eastern Kentucky than mine coal is grow food.”
The region is building on its assets to diversify its economy in fruitful and sustainable ways. Most people in the region have already put a lot of faith into the local foods sector. If this new research is any indication, that sector’s viability to become a major support for the future economy is apparent.