Monday, May 21, 2012

local: the icing of the cake

" Until recently, local production provided the cake (the bulk of our needs) and what was imported was the ‘icing’ and cherry on top, nice to have but we didn’t depend on it. What cheap energy and globalisation has created is a situation where now the cake is imported from wherever in the world it can be found cheapest, and local production is just the icing."
Writes Rob Hoskins in a recent blog post about construction, but the analogy is about food and it certainly applies well to food!
Earlier, it was the faraway spices and tea that marked luxury, and was largely reserved for the privileged. Today local, organic and artisanal foods are luxury, things just some people can "afford" - because other products are comparatively cheaper. The of free-range chicken, which was the only way to keep chicken 100 years ago, and still the normal way among rural poor - is now a luxury product.

It is also illuminating that the rich, who largely became rich from the profits from the globalised markets, are the ones that to the largest extent are buying the stuff from those producers who work in ways that are less compatible with a global market with endless competition.

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