Unlike “organic,” the term “local” does not have an official legal definition. In other words, farmers don’t have to meet certain production guidelines to call their products "local.”
Although there is no official certification process for local, the philosophy and practice of the local foods movement often goes above and beyond organic. Buying local allows the consumer to build a relationship with the farmer and ask specific questions about growing practices. That way you can truly know what goes into your food and how it’s grown. In addition to connecting the farmer and consumer, buying locally grown food also economically supports the community because a greater percentage of the food dollar goes to the farmer. The organic certification guidelines primarily focus on the environmental impacts of agriculture methods. The local food movement takes it a step further and addresses not only environmental issues but social and ethical aspects of food production.
Ethical and social issues addressed by local agriculture include the preservation of flavor, the ability to feed ourselves, the economic viability of rural community and the preservation of American agricultural traditions. For example, local farmers often work to preserve heirloom varietals and traditional flavors by growing and harvesting crops seasonally. Additionally, buying food directly from the farmer reinvests in the local community. Overall, the general philosophy behind local food embraces sustainability.
Local and sustainable food is at the crux of Bon Appétit’s philosophy as noted by our Farm to Fork program. Visit our Community section for more information about local food and what you can find in your area.