As awareness of local food grows, more people are becoming interested in understanding the economic impacts of local food systems. While many of us may be motivated to buy local food by values like preserving farmland, supporting small businesses, and expanding access to fresh, healthy food, these goals are economic development goals. Economic growth is a much narrower measure centered on increases in jobs and sales, or monetary value. To be sure, economic growth is a limited way of judging success, but there are times when it is helpful to justify food system initiatives in terms of economic growth to decision-makers like funders or local government officials.
The Michigan Farmers Market Association (MIFMA) and Taste the Local Difference (TLD) have a long history of supporting the local food community in Michigan. In 2017, the organizations began partnering to exchange service benefits, providing even more support to the state’s local farms and farmers markets. Participating members/partners of either organization now receive reduced rates on services from the other.