Slow Money: Investors Look to Local Food

Slow Food's backlash against fast food turns 20 this year and while the international, gastronomic organization appears to be losing some of its...

Slow Food's backlash against fast food turns 20 this year and while the international, gastronomic organization appears to be losing some of its allure, a crowdsourcing investment model based in part on Carlo Petrini's philosophy appears to be taking off: Slow Money.The timing seems particularly apt given the recent roller coaster of the fast money and investor wariness after the burst of the housing bubble.Slow Money takes its name from a book by Woody Tasch published last year: Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered. Tasch isn't arguing against economic growth; he says money should be lent at a local level by smaller investors who have an interest in their environment. Rates tend to be lower; after all, he writes, "no ear of corn has ever heard of 6 percent interest, much less 12 percent":"Organized from 'markets down' rather than from 'the ground up,' industrial finance is inherently limited in its ability to nurture the long-term health of community and bioregion. These limits are nowhere more apparent than in the food sector..." (via NPR).The notion expands on community-supported agriculture and other community-supported foods, where large groups of consumers/investors contribute small amounts of funds to renovate barns, repair fishing boats, and build restaurants.Slow Money is a unifying concept, one that should take a note from Slow Food's expansion, which continues to walk a fine line between earthiness and elitism, advancing a political agenda and promoting expensive meats.Guest blogger Peter Smith lives in Portland, Maine, where he produces The Sunday Best and writes for Gastronomica, Gourmet, and the Boston Globe. He profiled Ben Dobson in GOOD 013.

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