On a shelf of the Phoenix Bookstore, located in the heart of the ecovillage of Findhorn in the north of Scotland, the title Going Local (Free Press, 2000) caught my eye. The book was written by the American economist Michael H. Shuman. It was June 2002, and I had come to Findhorn to attend the international “Restore the Earth” conference, during which Vandana Shiva, Winona LaDuke, Helena Norberg-Hodge and some others were to present their ideas.
It interesting to note that from 15 to 20 percent of all food worldwide is grown in urban gardens. This about the same amount in total coming out of industrial scale farms.
The impact on the ecosystems of those urban gardens is a fraction of that of those industrial scale farms.
The majority of the worlds food still comes off farms of less then two hectares in size so the nonsense advanced by Monsanto and those feed lot operators that they "feed the world" is exactly that.
In my studies of urban/suburban transportation systems, I make a comparison between the automobile and the global economy. Cars and trucks present a severe impediment to other modes of travel - mass transit, walking and bicycling. Without these alternate means of travel, cars and trucks are an impediment to their own optimal function. The global economy, like cars and trucks, is an impediment to the lesser, though no less important scales of economy - local, regional, state, national economies, and likewise an impediment to its own optimal function.
To explain further, consider a Bell Curve with the global economy and local economy at opposite extremes of the curve and regional and state economies closer to the center of the Bell Curve's most efficient high point. Local economies are too small to take advantage of mass production. The efficiencies of mass production are lost in the cost of long-distance distribution to conduct the Global economy. Thus, the regional economy - consisting many local economies - is the most efficient use of resources. State and National economies more efficiently support local/regional economies than the global economy.
To sum up, the global economy benefits manufacturers which produce in huge quantities using subsistance wage-slave labor and distributors which ignore the costs of long-distance transport. Global tourism is mostly a luxury acting as an economic element distributing money that shouldn't be necessary to conduct local, regional, state and national economies.
A very interesting post. All of what you write just makes sense. Thanks for that.
I think there other things that have to be factored in as well that make local economies even more advantageous and efficient. Added to transportation costs are things like packaging, refrigeration and all of the things needed to get the food to survive being transported across a country many of which , such as preservatives added to foods, are adding to health care costs.
All scales of economy should include food production and distribution as a basic commodity, Guy Fawkes. Other basic elements of each scale of economy - various occupations, infrastructure construction and maintenance, health care, office work, education, governmental services - must likewise aim to reduce distance of travel and transport. The term Regional is meant as metropolitan area 'regions' or conglomerations of central cities and surrounding suburban areas. Basicly, the ideal regional economy should be ready to survive inevitable disruption of fuel supplies. Oddly enough, the transportation technology with the most potential to reach these goals are Plug-in hybrids rather than all-battery EVs like the Tesla and Nissan Leaf. Long range EVs are like the self-driving car nonsense - they encourage even more driving. Plug-in hybrids economically incentivize driving less, whereby more routine trips become possible without having to drive to patronize local economies. They are also the more ideal match to rooftop and small scale photovoltiac solar systems that incidentally complement regional utility grids rather than overwhelm them as would all electric EVs.
Corporations do more harm than good:
What would the world be like without corporations?