The results are in! Vermont-based local food advocacy group Strolling of the Heifers has released its Locavore Index for 2015. For the last four years, the group has ranked all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to government data on per capita availability of local food.
Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and Oregon took the top four spots, keeping the same rankings they had last year. Desert states Nevada and Arizona ranked in the bottom four, along with Florida and Texas.
Advocates said the index shows that new national and state-level policies to boost local food programs are getting results. The USDA’s directory of farmer’s markets currently lists 8,341 markets, a 36 percent increase since 2010.
Best and Worst
The Most Improved award goes to Pennsylvania, which jumped from 34th place last year to 17th. The biggest loser on the index is North Dakota, which was once in the top four, but slipped 24 places this year from a respectable 7th to 31st.
Indiana improved by one place, from 35th in 2014 to 34th.
This year, the index took into account new information from the Census on Agriculture, which tracks local food sales at farmer’s markets, CSAs and online outlets.
The census was conducted in 2012 but wasn’t ready by last year’s index. The survey also considers how many districts in each state have active farm-to-school programs.
The Strolling of the Heifers takes its name from an annual bovine parade through the center of Brattleboro that takes place during the first week of June.