Knowledge Base: Buy Local Tools, resources and thought leadership in regional food

Buy Local

Access information about definitions of local food, the economics of local, as well as information on sourcing locally and running a sustainable kitchen.

How Do You Define Local?

  • What does "Local Food" Sourcing Really Entail?

    With his expert insight from working in the produce industry, David Lively, Marketing Director for distributor Organically Grown Company, examines several local food claims and explains their pros and cons.

  • Just What Does Local Mean?

    How can definitions of "local" help us better understand the range of expectations and aspirations consumers have for the food system? This article delves into an examination of the question of how to define local food.

  • Can Local Food Go Mainstream?

    This article examines the prospects for local food to gain a greater share of sales in mainstream markets. The authors find exciting possibilities for growth in access to local foods, but also explore the challenges that stand in the way of increasing local food availability, such as higher production costs and inadequate distribution.

  • Is Local Enough? Some Arguments for Regional Food Systems

    Can a focus on sourcing regionally instead of locally produced food retain a sense of place, and allow food economies to grow? This article argues that a regional framework may be a better way to achieve the transformation in the food system that local food advocates are seeking.

Economic Impact

  • Bringing the Food Economy Home

    This article explains how localizing our food economy may be our best bet at effectively responding to mounting social and ecological crises caused by globalization.

  • Farmer in Chief

    Author Michael Pollan addresses a letter to President Obama, explaining the urgency with which we must hasten the re-localization of the food economy, and advises on how the Obama Administration should most effectively take action.

  • Local Food as Economic Development

    Local foods may be the best way to increase community economic development, according to Ken Meter of the Crossroads Resource Center. This concise white paper explains the economic benefits of buying locally in terms that are easy to understand. (659.4 KB PDF)

  • Local Food Systems: Concepts, Impacts, and Issues

    This comprehensive overview of local food systems by the USDA Economic Research Service explores alternative definitions of local food, and examines early indicators of the economic and health impacts of local food systems.

  • Local Food Consumers: How Motivations and Perceptions Translate to Buying Behavior

    This article sheds light on consumer perceptions of local food, and seeks to explain their motivations for purchasing local food products. Use this resource to inform your decision to source or sell locally or regionally.

Food Miles

  • Food Miles: How far your food travels has serious consequences for your health and the climate

    How your food is grown, stored, transported, processed and cooked impacts climate change and the environment. The Natural Resources Defense Council examines the various facets of the food system and illustrates its impacts on our natural resources. (243.1 KB PDF)

  • Checking the food odometer: Comparing food miles for local versus conventional produce sales to Iowa institutions

    Using food miles has become common when describing the journey food undergoes from farm to table. This paper from Iowa State University calculates the food miles for various types of fresh produce delivered to Iowa institutions from local sources, and compares it to data calculated from the food miles resulting from conventional sources of food. (0 B PDF)

  • Food Miles Debunked

    This article explores the caveats of thinking about food in terms of local, and illustrates how complex our food system really is.

Running a Sustainable Kitchen

  • Food Industry Pollution Prevention and Waste Reduction

    Do you want to reduce food waste and lower your disposal costs? This Michigan Department of Environmental Quality article provides information on the benefits of finding alternatives to sending your waste to the landfill through connecting with farmers, food banks, and other industry suppliers. (386 KB PDF)

  • Don't Throw Away That Food: Strategies for Record-Setting Waste Reduction

    The Environmental Protection Agency explains the benefits of reducing food waste, and provides several success stories and models for you to follow. (230.3 KB PDF)

  • Five Tips for Managing Food Costs When Running a Sustainable Kitchen

    Five tips for managing food costs when running a sustainable kitchen. (116.7 KB PDF)

  • Bait and Switch: How seafood fraud hurts our oceans, our wallets and our health

    This informative and well-laid out resource will help you recognize seafood fraud, understand its implications on the environment and your health, and suggest ways to stop seafood fraud. (2.3 MB PDF)

  • Green Restaurant Association

    The Green Restaurant Association works to provide convenient and cost-effective tools to help the restaurant industry reduce its harmful impact on the environment. Visit their website for resources on certification standards and other resources on sustainability, and to learn about their extensive consulting services.

Sourcing Locally

  • Farm to Table Trade Meetings

    Washington State-based Cascade Harvest Coalition hosts meetings throughout the year to bring together regional food buyers, producers, processors, distributors and restaurateurs to network, and forage future contracts.

  • Chefs Collaborative Local Food Distribution Report

    This report assess the performance and success of distribution models for moving food in a local network. It also includes interviews with more than 50 chefs, farmers and distributors about what they think works best for moving local food effectively, and what they wish worked better. This is a great resource for chefs and specialty food producers to gain insight into the various options to procure seasonal and locally grown food. (397.1 KB PDF)

  • Local Food Sourcing 101

    New to local and regional sourcing? This guide from the Institutional Food Marketing Coalition will enable you to communicate effectively with co-workers, supervisors and staff about why you want to source local food. It will also help you understand your own preferences and capabilities, and the best place for your institution to start. (46 KB PDF)

  • How to Start the Conversation: A Food Service Director & Farmer Conversation Guide

    This one-page guide to beginning conversations about purchasing locally is geared towards food service directors, but can be a useful tool for chefs, grocers, restaurants, etc. that want to buy directly from producers. (72.2 KB PDF)

  • Guide to Developing a Sustainable Food Purchasing Policy

    The Sustainable Food Policy Project was initiated in 2006 to support efforts by educational, health care, and other institutions to have a positive impact on the food system through purchasing. This is the latest copy of the guide from 2007. Learn more here: (936.7 KB PDF)

  • Deciding Where to Source

    Thinking about sourcing closer to home? This publication from the Annual International Supply Management Conference takes you through a nine step assessment to evaluate your sourcing choices, and the benefits and challenges of those choices. (28.5 KB PDF)

  • Towards Local and Regional Sourcing - Sysco and Chipotle

    This webinar explains how scaling up local food production requires increasing the capacity of growers, but also calls Buy Local lined up to get the food to the eaters. Representatives from Chipotle and Sysco, two large corporations committed to increasing their local and regional buying, talk about their experiences with scaling up regional sourcing.

  • Seasonal Produce Availability by State

    The Eat Well Guide contains seasonal produce guides for all of the states in the U.S., as well as its territories and the Canadian provinces. A clickable map links to outside websites with seasonal produce information, and will help plan your seasonally inspired menus.

  • Going Local is Not as Simple as It Sounds

    This article from the Boise Weekly explores the challenges and benefits of chef's attempting to source locally.

  • Community Food Enterprise

    This website from the Wallace Center highlights community food enterprise case studies, and features an extensive report about the challenges and successes of community food enterprises around the U.S. and abroad.

  • Chefs with Issues: Five Sustainable Lessons from a family farm

    What does it take to make ends meet as a small-scale rancher? Craig Rogers explains the importance of chefs and consumers commited to sourcing locally, and using the whole animal to a rancher's survival as a business.

Industry Organizations






    • Portland Chefs Collaborative

      Portland Chefs Collaborative fosters a sustainable food system through advocacy, education, and collaboration with the broader food community. They hold group meetings, outings, events, field trips, and farm visits several times throughout the year.

    • Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association


    • Seattle Chefs Collaborative

      Seattle Chefs Collaborative works with chefs and the greater food community to celebrate local foods and foster a more sustainable food supply.

    • Washington Restaurant Association


    • National Chefs Collaborative

      The Chefs Collaborative is a national chef network that's changing the sustainable food landscape using the power of connections, education and responsible buying decisions. They work with chefs and the greater food community to celebrate local foods and foster a more sustainable food supply.