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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

A "sizable proportion of the population could meet its food needs" through farming within a 155-mile radius of its metropolitan area — fulfilling a locavore's dream, per a Tufts University study published this week.

Why it matters: The locavore and farm-to-table movements — as popularized by Michael Pollan, Alice Waters and others — inspire passion among foodies but actually represent just a small segment of U.S. agricultural activity.

Driving the news: The study looked at whether — in theory — 378 metropolitan areas "could meet their food needs from local agricultural land located within 250 kilometers [155 miles]."

  • Chicago, Seattle and Denver were among the big U.S. cities that would best be able to fulfill their own needs — with the big caveat that the current agricultural ecosystem would have to be radically upended.
  • New York, Los Angeles and Miami were among those with the least ability to feed themselves locally.

The intrigue: Ironically, the part of the country where interest in consuming local and regional food is the strongest — the "BoshWash" Northeastern corridor connecting Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. — is among the least conducive to feeding itself, according to Professor Christian Peters, lead author of the study, published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology.

  • "In most of the Northeast states, those cities would have a harder time meeting their food needs locally," Peters tells Axios.
  • There are a lot of caveats, too, said Peters, who's with the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.
  • For instance, "There's no universally agreed-to definition of what constitutes local food and what constitutes regional food."
  • "There's lots of inconsistent definitions, and that can be frustrating."

What they're saying: "Most cities along the Eastern Seaboard and in the southwest corner of the U.S. could not meet their food needs locally, even if every available acre of agricultural land was used for local food production," according to Peters.

  • “Yet, many cities in the rest of the country are surrounded by ample land to support local and regional food systems."

The bottom line: It's too early for locavores to rejoice.

Go deeper: 15-minute cities are making a comeback

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in Trump's campaign to disrupt the committee's sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.

UNC race conscious admissions process upheld by judge

Students walk through the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on Aug. 18, 2020 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Photo: Melissa Sue Gerrits/Getty Images

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill can continue its race conscious admissions process, a federal judge ruled on Monday.

Why it matters: The case could end up in the Supreme Court after the conservative nonprofit Students for Fair Admissions (SFFA) vowed to appeal the judge's ruling that UNC didn't discriminate against against white and Asian American applicants in its policy that it said was designed to increase diversity.

SEC debunks conspiracy theories about meme stock mania

Photo: Alessia Pierdomenico/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The SEC issued its long-awaited report on the meme stock mania, which downplayed the narrative that a "short squeeze" was the primary driver behind GameStop's historic stock moves — and shot down conspiracy theories about the event.

Why it matters: The postmortem was highly anticipated, largely because of what it could hint about what the regulator thinks should be done in wake of the saga. But the report stopped short of specific policy recommendations.