The benefits, challenges, and strategies of adults following a local food diet
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Supported in part by a variety of popular books, websites, and other media, the interest in local food is building dramatically, and a growing number of people are increasing their purchases of local food. This paper describes a study that explored the perceived benefits and challenges of following a diet consisting exclusively of local food in southwestern Virginia, as well as the strategies for coping with its limitations. Nineteen individuals participated in a four-week Local Food Diet Challenge, which included eating only foods produced from within 100 miles of the participants' homes. Part of a larger study looking at the nutritional impacts of a local food diet, this study included a pre-diet questionnaire that gathered participants' demographic characteristics, shopping patterns, eating behaviors, and attitudes toward local foods; consumption-reporting forms during the diet period; and a post-diet focus-group discussion for participants to share their experiences in following the local food diet. In this paper we report the major themes that emerged in the focus groups and offer recommendations for locavores and organizations attempting to maximize local food consumption.