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Slow Money: Countercultural thinker may have something…or not

I stumbled across Woody Tasch on NPR yesterday afternoon, when NPR’s All Things Considered ran a segment on his “slow money” concept, as it applies to a small organic dairy farm in upstate New York. It’s basically a variant onpeer-to-peer lending, or disintermediation, which cuts out the lending institutions with which we are presently feeling disgruntled.

The idea has a certain postmodern (or Depression-era?) charm. Like small-town bankers, we will all lend money to our friends and townspeople, here in the global village. Tasch’s take on it, however, is intriguing: that the speed with which financial transactions fly around the planet is a weakness in the global economy, because there are “structural limits to the power of industrial finance.”Speaking in favor of a simplified market, Tasch observes that “most recently, the subprime mortgage collapse signals the limits of ever accelerating, ever more complex, derivative-driven financial markets.”

He argues that the make-big-money-fast model, organized from “‘markets down’ rather than from the ‘ground up,'” works in favor of environmental degradation and, where food is concerned, brings us chemical-laden food, obesity, and hunger. Tasch focuses on socially responsible food production, suggesting that capital should be steered toward small, local, environmentally friendly farms and businesses.

It would be good to see organized support of farms that produce high-quality food all over the country. Wouldn’t it be awesome to have access to this kind of dairy product at a nearby market? Assuming, however, it came at a price one could afford…

Possibly if more financial support materializes for operations that produce organic foods, milk from grass-fed cows will become available at something less than $20 a gallon.

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