MERCED (CBS SF) – Eating locally can be more than a passing fad, according to a new study from UC Merced. Researchers said the overwhelming majority of Americans could be fed entirely by food grown or raised within 100 miles of their homes.

Professor Elliott Campbell and his students researched farmland surrounding every American city and estimated how many calories that could be produced by the farms. The researchers then compared the potential calories to the population of each city, to determine how many people could be fed locally.

Researchers said up to 90 percent of U.S. residents could be sustained by food from local farms.

“There are profound social and environmental benefits to eating locally,” Campbell said in a university statement.

Researchers said eating locally is possible for a significant number in the nation’s most populous cities. The team found food from farms within 100 miles of New York City could feed 30 percent of the city’s residents (about 2.5 million) . Farms within 100 miles of Los Angeles could potentially feed half of the city’s population.

The research was published Monday in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.

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