What Does Local Mean?

In this day, during a global pandemic, many people have become passionate about supporting local businesses. This week, we're going to take a look into what local means and what it really means to support local businesses. 

What does "Local" mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, local is "characterized by or relating to position in space: having definite spatial form or location; of, relating to, or characteristic of a particular place : not general or widespread; of, relating to, or applicable to part of a whole; primarily serving the needs of a particular limited district; of a public conveyance : making all the stops on a route." Or, local can also be defined as "a local person or thing: such as a local public conveyance (such as a train or an elevator); a local or particular branch, lodge, or chapter of an organization (such as a labor union)."

Now, this isn't an English lesson, but it's important to recognize the roots of our topic. We'll put the definition of local into context within the foodservice industry. 

Local in the Foodservice Industry

Let's take a look at the definition "characterized by or relating to a position in space: having definite spatial form or location" and "of, relating to, or characteristic of a particular place: not general or widespread." In terms of the food industry, this means local food is produced and distributed in definite spatial area. The USDA Agricultural Library says, "There is no predetermined distance to define what consumers consider "local," but a set number of miles from a center point or state/local boundaries is often used." 

In the local food system, farms and consumers connect at the point of sale. Because of this process in the local food system, it's easier to preserve the identity of local foods, because you as the consumer know exactly where your food comes from. There are many points of sales where you can purchase local foods, such as farmer's markets, pick-your-own farms, farm stands and Community supported agriculture (CSA) partnerships. These points of sales are increasingly becoming more available because of our desire to support local farmers. 

Local Restaurants 

There are typically two types of restaurants you can eat at when you decide to eat out; chain and local.

Chain Restaurants have at least 10 restaurants and have a headquarters location. These places are often franchises and usually have uniformity throughout all locations. Local restaurants are typically "mom-and-pop" restaurants and are owned and operated inside a community. These places rely heavily on the community to support them because they don't have 10 restaurants. 

Now that we know what defines "local," next week we'll look into how you can support your local restaurants!