Apr 4, 2008
Report | Why Local Linkages Matter: Findings from the Local Food Economy Study
To receive a pdf copy of this report, send us an email at info(at)sustainableseattle(dot)org
A growing number of people in our region are committed to building a healthy local food economy. This is not an easy task. A significant part of the challenge is to show that developing strong local economic linkages is crucial to the economic success of our region’s food producers, manufacturers, distributors and purveyors. In 2005, Sustainable Seattle began a local multiplier project focusing on the food industry in the Central Puget Sound region for this purpose. The project report, Why Local Linkages Matter: Findings from the Local Food Economy Study, explains why we should care about our spending choices when it comes to food and sustainability. It finds that locally directed spending supports a web of relationships, rooted in place, which makes for healthier and more prosperous communities.
From the Executive Summary:
Spending involves a choice about the kind of future we want to have. Why Local Linkages Matter explains why we should care about our spending choices when it comes to sustainability.
The report describes the dollar flows and economic linkages of food-related businesses in the Central Puget Sound region of Washington State. The analysis shows that locally directed spending by consumers more than doubles the number of dollars circulating among businesses in the community. This means that a shift of 20% of our food dollars into locally directed spending would result in a nearly half billion dollar annual income increase in King County alone and twice that in the Central Puget Sound region.
A model of a relationship-based economy emerges from the study. The model says that the more dollars circulating locally, the greater the number of community linkages and the greater their strength. The research indicates that more and stronger linkages provide for a healthier, more diverse and resilient local economy. Simply put, locally directed buying and selling connects the community’s resources to its needs resulting in relationships that serve to restore the land and regenerate community.
What we are witnessing in the emergence of the local food economy is changing the idea of what makes for healthy economies – from growth based on commoditizing resources to community stewardship of resource flows. In the emerging local food economy, we see the promise of a sustainable future. But this web of relationships needs to be strengthened and expanded to change the bigger picture of an increasingly unsustainable food system.