Local food's large geophysical potential and resource conservation capacity

Local food systems may facilitate agroecological practices that conserve nutrient, energy, and water resources. However, little is known about the potential for local food systems to scale beyond niche markets and meet a substantial fraction of total food demand. To address this knowledge gap, we estimated the upper potential for all existing croplands to meet total US food demand through local food networks (Zumkehr & Campbell, 2015). Our spatially explicit approach simulates the years 1850 through 2000 and accounts for a wide range of diets, food waste, population distributions, cropland areas, and crop yields. While we find that local food potential has declined over time, our results also demonstrate an unexpectedly large current potential for meeting as much as 90% of the national food demand.