I first heard the term local food in 2003, when I agreed to plan and facilitate a Local Foods Forum for the Sustainable Agriculture Program of the Illinois Department of Agriculture. The purpose of the Forum was to bring together people working on food issues from the Chicago area and downstate Illinois to inform the IDOA's Sustainable Agriculture Committee about the needs and priorities related to local food issues in Illinois, so that the Committee could make Sustainable Agriculture Grants for local food projects.
Already at that time, people in many areas were growing, promoting, and selling local food, and I have seen these activities expand over time. The term locavore, while not yet common knowledge around here, had not yet entered any of the discussions that I read in 2003. By early 2009, the number of people aware of and devoted to local foods had grown large enough to persuade the newly elected President Obama to have a vegetable garden planted on the White House grounds for the first time since Eleanor Roosevelt's wartime victory garden during World War II.
To me, however, the best indication of the widespread penetration of local foods awareness can be found at our local IGA. The IGA has sold apples from our local apple orchard for several years. At first, they had no special labeling. A couple of years ago, the sign in the produce section said, "Homegrown," if I remember correctly. This year, the sign reads something like, "Locally Grown and Handpicked by Okaw Valley Orchard."
And, at the back of the produce section last week, there was a basket of walnuts labeled, "Locally Grown."
When a trend reaches Sullivan, it is truly national.
Here are some places you can look for more information: