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This dissertation examines the needs, preferences, policies, programs, and institutions surrounding localfood systems to better understand how they align with sustainability principles and goals. Both food system governance at the local level and the promotion of locally sourced foods are moored to sustainability goals, especially in urban areas, because of their impacts on environmental and health characteristics like green space, fresh food access, pollution reduction measures, and storm water mitigation efforts. The questions posed here use local food systems, as they are still underrepresented in the literature, but are vitally important to further our understanding of all three pillars of sustainability: economy, environment, and equity. The theories and analytical techniques I use here can be applied to investigate a variety of economic development, land use, and sustainability policies and programs at the local and regional levels, as I discuss throughout.