When strolling through a local farmers market you may well be struck by the many ways in which the food offered for sale differs from typical mass-produced and -marketed food products. For starters, healthful produce items dominate the farmers market, and they are typically fresher and more flavorful than supermarket produce. Moreover, the presence of the farmers puts a face on who grew the food and reflects where and how it was grown. Less apparent to the casual shopper, however, are the important economic benefits that farmers markets?and the local and regional food systems behind them?can provide to rural and urban communities alike. In this report, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) explores the recent remarkable growth of farmers markets and other manifestations of local and regional food systems, describes key features of these systems, evaluates their economic and other impacts on the communities in which they operate, and offers surprising data on their potential to create jobs in those communities. Finally, the report addresses some challenges that local and regional food systems must meet if they are to grow further, and it recommends public policies that could help promote and expand these systems in the future.