Local food has been championed as a sustainable alternative to the industrial food system for many reasons, including a perceived environmental benefit through an expected decrease in the energy needed for transport from farm to market. The environmental benefit of local food, however, has been clouded by questions surrounding the energy footprint of small–scale distribution methods that do not enjoy economies of scale. Several studies have found local food to be as energy intensive as imported food due to very inefficient distribution methods; a case study of a Calgary, Canada restaurant, explores this issue. A description of FoodRoots, a local food distributor in Victoria, Canada, with a mandate to promote a local sustainable food system by creating the infrastructure link between consumers and growers and processors, illustrates one method of addressing this problem. Their 'Pocket Markets' represent a less energy–intensive distribution method for local food.
Keywords: sustainable food, local food, ecological footprint, food distribution, farmers markets, small–scale distribution, energy intensive distribution, Canada, environmental impact, sustainability