Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Friday, March 12, 2010

the local economy - wendell berry

inspite of all our best efforts at eating local, etc., we will never be able to fully grow 100% of all our food requirements.
we will get to a significant level (say 75%) in a year or so.
the tough ones to crack will be tea/coffee/oil/spices and suchlike.

either we could move to a diet which is very low on the above 'tough ones', or we take it from the market.
here is where i would like to pause and try to define 'market'.
and i shall fully invoke wendell berry (one of my inspirations).
his epochal 'in distrust of movements' and the 'unsettling of america: culture and agriculture' (mini presentation here) were instrumental in making the idealogical turn in my thinking.

he does another masterclass in defining the 'the idea of a local economy'.

currently we are in a total economy:
A total economy is an unrestrained taking of profits from the disintegration of nations. communities, households, landscapes, and ecosystems. It licenses symbolic or artificial wealth to “grow” by means of the destruction of the real wealth of all the world…
principles of local economy:
So far as I can see, the idea of a local economy rests upon only two principles: neighborhood and subsistence. In a viable neighborhood, neighbors ask themselves what they can do or provide for one another, and they find answers that they and their place can afford. This, and nothing else, is the practice of neighborhood. This practice must be, in part, charitable, but it must also be economic, and the economic part must be equitable; there is a significant charity in just prices.
principle of trade:
Of course, everything needed locally cannot be produced locally. But a viable neighborhood is a community; and a viable community is made up of neighbors who cherish and protect what they have in common. This is the principle of subsistence. A viable community, like a viable farm, protects its own production capacities. It does not import products that it can produce for itself. And it does not export local products until local needs have been met. The economic products of a viable community are understood either as belonging to the community’s subsistence or as surplus, and only the surplus is considered to be marketable abroad.
protectionism is needed:
The principles of neighborhood and subsistence will be disparaged by the globalists as “protectionism” – and that is exactly what it is. It is a protectionism that is just and sound, because it protects local producers and is the best assurance of adequate supplies to local consumers.
1. we are already trying to buy peanuts, rice, fruits from local growers (as against from the madras market).
2. we have sown some sesame to examine the scope of extracting our own oil.

and so on in our own quest, we see berry's words play out.


Kishore said...

The observations are true and reflects excellent reasons for why the decay in a world of plenty (materials) is evident around us.

I think the key measure here, particularly in India is that the sense of community where we value and support each other as a community and then as a nation are deficient and without restoring that no community will thrive.

I would like to continue this conversation with you about how you can increase the effects on where you live


csm said...

hi kishore - my email is sriramskd AT gmail DOT com

glad to see you here and take interest in my meanderings.