The local food movement consists of thousands, if not millions of food initiatves around the world. It’s all about shortening distances, which is absolutely essential in terms of all our basic needs — for food, clothing and shelter. Worldwide farmers have been pressured to produce more and more standard products and ship them over longer and longer distances. Larger and larger scale monocultures, not only the same product, but the same size, the size that fits the machinery. In the process, tons of food is thrown away, and in the process we are eradicating biodiversity. As we shorten the distances, it’s in the interests of the farmer to diversify. And this is what’s happening. Which means that we can produce more food per unit of land. Studies show ten times more food from small, diversified farms.
If we want to make change in the world today, we have to start recognizing the interface between what we do and nature, which is the real economy.
By shortening the distances we cut out all the so-called “value added” activity (of packing, preserving, storing, transporting, etc.). The farmers get 100% for the food in the farmer’s market, but 10% in the industrial ag market.
This also applies to forestry, fishing, etc.
This is the elephant in the room. The global economy is responsible for poverty, and the widening distance between rich and poor in every single country.
The issue is not left vs. right, but global vs. local.
Helena Norberg-Hodge is the founder and director of the International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) and its predecessor, the Ladakh Project. She is the author of Ancient Futures: Learning from Ladakh and co-author of Bringing the Food Economy Home. Her articles have appeared in numerous journals such as The Ecologist, Resurgence, and YES! magazine. Norberg- Hodge’s ground-breaking work in the Himalayan region of Ladakh is internationally recognized, and earned her the Right Livelihood Award.
A particular focus of Norberg-Hodge’s is the impact of the global economy on culture and agriculture and in particular the root causes of our social and environmental crises.
She is on the International Commission on the Future of Food and Agriculture, launched with the support of the government of Tuscany. She is also a member of the editorial board of The Ecologist magazine and a co-founder of the International Forum on Globalisation and the Global Eco-village Network.