St. Louis Foodshed Study Evaluates the Evolution of Industrial Food Production
Review of Agriculture data from 1925-2007 within a 100-mile radius of St. Louis
St. Louis, MO: A new report called the St. Louis Regional Food Study was released today by the Missouri Coalition for the Environment (MCE). The study analyzes the impacts of industrial agriculture on our diet, health, and environment. MCE looked at 59 counties within a 100-mile radius around the City of St. Louis using agricultural data from 1925-2007, called a “foodshed.”
The report found that only one tenth of one percent of cropland in the 100-mile radius is dedicated to non-commodity fruits and vegetables. “The St. Louis foodshed had more than six times the number of acres growing fruits and vegetables in 1925 than we do today,” said Melissa Vatterott, lead author of the study. “We have the opportunity to feed our region but instead we are growing corn and soy that are used as fuel, animal feed or unhealthy, processed foods.”
Starting in 2012, MCE gathered an array of county-based data that relates to our health, the environment, our food, and the local economy in St. Louis and surrounding 58 counties. The St. Louis foodshed spends over $17 billion annually on food, with much of the money leaving the region to pay for processing, packaging, transportation, and other costs associated with our national industrialized food system.
“The higher per-unit cost of raising a tomato on a small farm in our foodshed puts local tomatoes at a cost disadvantage compared to the economies of hundreds-acre tomato plantations in Florida, Mexico, and Texas,” said Andy Ayers, a local food entrepreneur. “This is directly related to artificially low petroleum prices from the fertilizers and pesticides used by the mono-crop farms to the diesel fuel the 18-wheelers use to bring produce into this market.”
“We hope the foodshed study increases collaborations with local farmers, food providers, health advocates and people who care about creating a local food system that benefits our health, economy, and environment,” said Vatterott. “The Missouri Coalition for the Environment looks forward to helping create this vision.”
More information on the Foodshed Study can be found here: here