by Marion Nestle
May 6 2009

American agriculture at a glance

The New York Times has an informative series of maps of the locations of the more than 10,000 organic farms in the U.S.  And notice the increase in sales!

That number of organic farms may seem like a lot but it pales in comparison to the total 2.2 million farms.  Most farms are East of the Mississippi and in the far West.  The maps also show where most of the orchards, vegetable farms, and dairies tend to be.  A big chunk of the country must have a hard time getting locally grown fruit and vegetables, let alone organics.  Doesn’t this look like a growth opportunity?

  • i don’t think the map shows any real distortion of the organic farms relative to conventional farms if you compare the organic map to the vegetable farms map. Most organic farms are basically veggie farms with grains & livestock on the margins.

    It is also really encouraging that already 5% of produce grown is organic. if you consider the 4 fold increase over 10 years (or maybe 3 fold over 2002-2007!) in organic products then in 10 more years, you could easily be looking at 20% (or 30%) of the market. Obviously, I am mixing metrics to some degree, but I think the trends are very encouraging indeed.

  • Anthro

    The reason you see less in the Midwest is that they don’t EAT vegetables, so there isn’t much need to grow them. I’m an unwilling transplant from the northwest and am constantly shocked at the poor quality of produce and the lack of vegetables at restaurants, even high end. The odd thing is that Wisconsin (only a small part of the “midwest”) leads the way in subscription agriculture, but this comes mostly out of Madison, which is a beacon of light in the midwest anyway. Milwaukee just got a Whole Foods about a year ago and its coop of many years is very small compared to what I’m used to even in small towns in the northwest.

    Another point to poster Chris: A lot of the increase in organic farms, unfortunately, is “big organic” which tears down a lot of what organic stands for philosophically.