Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Localization: Some Success Stories

There are a number of important examples of economies going local, either out of necessity or desire. Most of these are in lesser developed countries but even in the U.S., quality local foods are making headway against the long distance food chains.

Perhaps the best known of these efforts was the adoption of urban agriculture in Cuba after the fall of the Soviet Union cut off most of that country's oil and food imports. As seen in the movie The Power of Community, Cuba turned to urban farming, cleaning up idle land in the cities to use as gardens. Helped by Australian permaculturists, who set up the Foundation for Nature and Humanity, urban gardening quickly spread to rooftops, patios and raised garden beds on parking lots. The loss of oil forced them to turn to bio-pesticides and bio-fertilizers. Now Havana produces half of all the vegetables it consumes within the city limits, while other towns and cities produce all that they need. This produce is sold in newly allowed private markets that provide a thriving, year round business.

India has several examples of communal businesses that have spread across the country. Vanda Shiva describes an organization of women who make the Indian snack Lijjat Papad. Growing out of a small group of women in Gurgaum looking for a source of income, the organization now has 63 branches around the country, and 3 billion rupees in yearly sales. What is most remarkable is that the organization has no hierarchy or leadership, but rather considers itself a family and even a place of worship, built around the principles of common ownership, non-discrimination, voluntarism, autonomy, and ethical business practices.

Another self-organized business, the Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association, delivers 175,000 lunch boxes each day over 28 miles of public transportation. Raghunath Maharaj, its president, claims that, "No one in the association is an employee or employer, all are partners and all are co-owners." The delivery network consists of decentralized units of 15 to 25 individuals, which rely on a coding system that tells where each tiffin box was picked up, the originating and destination stations, and the address to which it is delivered. Once a month, the association holds a meeting to resolve disputes and problems.

In the U.S. the beginnings of a relocalization can be seen in the recent growth in the number of farmers markets, consumer supported agriculture, and in campaigns such as the "100 Mile Diet." While especially strong in California--the bay area alone has some 90 farmers markets--the growth of these markets is a nationwide phenomena. Nationwide, the number of markets has tripled in the last decade to nearly 4,500 with over a billion dollars in yearly sales.

The pressure of necessity has forces dramatic moves toward local, environmentally sustainable economies in some parts of the world. Even iU.S., where necessity is still a haunting future reality, a growing awareness of our limits is bringing the beginnings of a return to local economic organization.


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At 3:34 PM, Blogger Eating Consciously said...

I'm glad you are speakng the truth about the definite connection between food and the environment. Concerning local food, here in Philadelphia, we are fighting to make local produce part of our school lunch system. How's that for a step in the right direction? If you are interested, my entire blog is devoted to unleashing the information concerning food and it's effect on our environment. WWW.EATINGCONSCIOUSLY.COM

At 7:37 PM, Blogger Halibonian said...

inspirational stuff ... I agree that we can go green in the future - teaching the next generation is the key. I'm creating a world where kids can learn how to be green,

Check out my new blog - more to follow


Great to see your posts on here


At 10:39 PM, Blogger Chris Bassoo said...

Posted by Christopher Bassoo, Canada

I wanted to thank you for the informative and enjoyable read. I have been sitting here with my coffee and laptop enjoying a Bassoo family evening. Again many thanks, warmest of regards Chris Bassoo, Toronto, Canada

At 11:50 AM, Blogger SandyVTW said...

We are seeing much more interest in green building. We build custom timber frames and frequently supply FSC certified timber and reclaimed timbers. We agree, the future is green!

At 2:39 PM, Blogger Scott Nance said...

Here's an interesting web video titled "Sustainable Connections - Transforming a Community Through Local Business," focusing on Bellingham, Wash.

At 11:15 PM, Blogger prabha matta said...

very true! I do see here in Delhi that dabba system(lunch box system) has grown popular. It is inexpensive and they do give the local food meeting our taste buds!

At 10:30 AM, Blogger David said...

I am just starting a farm to provide local foods to my area. I have just started a blog to record it.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Nina said...

Interesting read. Thanks for sharing My semi-urban garden contains many experiments in combining ornamentation and food sources. It is nice to learn it can be productive (even if some of my experiments make me think otherwise).

At 3:18 PM, Blogger Victoria said...

Hey! Your blog is great, I think it's so cool that you're grappling with these issues. Check out this great opportunity I just found out about- the BR!CK Awards- at www.brickawards.com

At 6:11 PM, Blogger Rivier College Republicans said...

Another interesting view on global warming...


At 7:56 PM, Blogger xxjaws687xx said...

I like this blog,one day the earth will flood and we need to stop it.

But it's not like the citezins don't care,no one does,All the energy saving stuff is sooooo expensive.And no one wants to have to build the wind power stuff,plus the soloar panles are so expensive.

It's just not fair the the people are getting blamed for global warming,the producers are the ones to blame if we'er pointing fingers

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Edukator said...

I like this post and your blog. We need more publicity and more examples of what is being done rather than the endless list of problems that exist.

Every time I hear a success story or read about something that's changed and is working I gain a bit of hope.

At 4:09 AM, Blogger Jems Nichole said...

The information that you provided was thorough and helpful. I will have to share your article with others
What is localization


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