Americans spend nearly $1.2 trillion per year on food—that's almost one-tenth of the total US GDP—but very little of that helps our local communities, since most of our food money goes to large chains. If we could turn that around and shop for more local food, Tom Philpott believes it "could save the economy," he writes in Mother Jones. Consider Iowa, where one group of farmers expanded their local food offerings—thus causing local food sales to jump from less than $10,000 in 2006 to more than $2 million in 2010, and creating about 26 new jobs in the process.
But growing local food sales will take teamwork, since most small farms usually don't have access to packinghouses, processing facilities, and other components necessary for larger operations like raising animals for meat. Philpott provides a few examples of the collaboration required, like Ohio, where a small dairy processor (which processes milk from local farms) supplies excess cream to a local ice cream maker: "So now, when Columbus residents buy a pint of Jeni's, they're supporting jobs at a food retailer, an ice cream maker, a dairy processor, and a dairy farm, all in one go." Click for Philpott's full piece.