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    It's easy to think of local food as a diversion for people with plenty of time and money — something that could never be a major source of food in a globalized world. But the number $4.8 billion might change that perception.

    American farmers say they're selling $4.8 billion a year in fruits and vegetables in their local markets, according to a new analysis by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Though the number of farmer's markets doubled between 1998 and 2009, the bulk of the new sales came from supermarkets and restaurants.

    Indeed, the lion's share — $2.7 to $3.8 billion — came from farmers selling food through channels like restaurants and grocery stores. It was the first time the USDA has included those sales in surveying local food markets.

    Although the $4.8 billion number sounds big, it represents just 2 percent of American agricultural sales.
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