A locavore is defined as one who only eats food grown within a 100-mile radius of their location. Living in the urban sprawl of Los Angeles, I was curious to know if it is possible for me, or any resident of Los Angeles County, to eat entirely locally by shopping at farmer’s markets in the area. I would like to find out if it is feasible to be a locavore in a place as large and as dense as Los Angeles. The farmer’s market that is closest to my residence is the one on Main Street in Santa Monica, so I decided to use this market as my research base. I believe that it will be incredibly difficult to be a locavore in Los Angeles, because there are so few agricultural lands nearby. Santa Monica is a dense urban city, while most of Los Angeles County is either urban or suburban. I do not think that there are enough farms within 100 miles to be able to subsist on entirely local produce year round.
For this project, I first researched all of the vendors at the Sunday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market on Main Street, and created an Excel Spreadsheet with their addresses. One of the limitations of this study was that I was unable to locate all of the addresses for the vendors at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market. There are over 40 vendors at the Sunday Farmer’s Market, but I was only able to locate 30 vendor addresses. This means that my results are incomplete, as I do not have the locations of some of the vendors. Once I compiled all of the data, I used geocoding to add all of the address points to a shapefile of California counties in ArcMap. I located Santa Monica within Los Angeles County on the map, and created a 100-mile buffer around the city. At this point, I realized that while I do not live in Santa Monica I do shop at the Farmer’s Market every weekend, and that there are surely many other Los Angeles residents who do the same. I created a layer on the map of just Los Angeles County, and then created a 100-mile buffer around LA County. I identified all farms within 100 miles of Santa Monica, all farms within 100 miles of Los Angeles County (which include the farms in the Santa Monica 100-mile radius), and all farms more than 100 miles from Los Angeles County (which includes Santa Monica). To separate the farms, I used the Editor tool to create 3 different layers of the geocoded addresses. I then chose only the farms that fell within each buffer to produce the farms that are within a 100-mile radius of Santa Monica and Los Angeles County.
At the Sunday Santa Monica Farmer’s Market, eight of the thirty vendors are more than 100 miles from Los Angeles County. These eight farms are Spring Hill Cheese in Petaluma, Munak Ranch in Paso Robles, Bautista Family Organic Date Ranch in Mecca, Avila & Sons Farm in Hanford, Fair Hills Apple Farm in Paso Robles, Olson Farms in Kingsburg, Zuckerman’s Farm in Stockton, and Organic Pastures Dairy Co in Fresno. The graph on my map shows the distance from Santa Monica for each farm. Spring Hill Cheese is the furthest away, with a distance of nearly 400 miles, but most of the farms are around 200 miles from Santa Monica. The other 22 vendors at the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market are within the 100-mile radius for Los Angeles County, but only 16 of these vendors are within 100 miles of Santa Monica. The 16 vendors within 100 miles of Santa Monica sell an assortment of goods, making it entirely plausible to only eat food derived from these local sources.
I found that being a locavore in Los Angeles is not impossible, which is what I had initially thought. There are more vendors within a 100-mile radius of Santa Monica than I expected. This shows that it is not unattainable to be a locavore in a large city. Of course, one would be limited by choice of produce and seasonality, but in Southern California with year round warm weather this is not such a terrible prospect. I found that only 8 of the 30 vendors are more than 100 miles from Los Angeles, leaving 22 vendors that fall into the local food category. This shows that being a locavore is possible anywhere, even in the densest of cities. I was surprised by the amount of rural land still surrounding Los Angeles County; I thought that there would be fewer farms.