Bill Rankin, 2005, 2009
The geography of U.S. agriculture is not a smooth space of overlapping local conditions; it is instead a disjointed and lumpy space of specialization. With the exception of some crops in the Midwest, there are few areas where different commodities are grown side by side, and while cattle are distributed relatively evenly throughout the country, the production of all other animals is quite concentrated.
These maps suggest that we need to rethink our commonplace ideas of localism and the virtues of local farming. While local food is often more healthful or sustainable, the idea that the US could become a nation of locavores is absurd. No major city could ever source all of its food from local farms – not even those close to major agricultural areas.
Data source: Agricultural Census of the US.