Two of my colleagues at Oklahoma State, Brian Whitacre and Trey Malone, just released a report on local foods. Here is their conclusion:
The marketing of local food has been promoted and state-supported as an economic boon to rural places. But thus far, it appears that urban customers and economies are reaping most of the benefits.
Later they say:
Overall, the maps suggest that support for local food systems is a strongly urban phenomenon.
Local foods may have some positive attributes, but as I've argued here and in my forthcoming book, The Food Police, (see also The Locavore's Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet by Desrochers and Shimizu) promoting local foods is unlikely to be a good rural development strategy.