Measuring the Importance of Local Food in the Chicago Foodshed
The study is motivated by the need to develop cost-effective tools to estimate the value and size of local food systems. Organizations in need of such evaluations often cannot afford the large price tag for the type of in-depth analysis they desire, and thus alternative, cost-effective methods are the next best choice. We use a recent evaluation of the Chicago foodshed to demonstrate one such cost-effective tool. Expansion of local sales constitutes import substitution, where local foods supplant existing imports. The proposed input-output (I/O) modeling method combines a “follow the money” approach with one that isolates total contributions of the local food systems, and uses an alternative definition of local foods. The approach modifies the underlying IMPLAN data and uses secondary data to account for other changes. The method is applied to a multicounty region comprising four states; the method’s limitations are also discussed.
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