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12 April 2008

Supporting the local economy in food

With food prices at high, inflation high, markets low, global recession and such staring us in the face, spending on food is a good place to start thinking about lifestyles.

As India moves to organised retail, gm food, supply-chain logistics and such, progress beckons even as it wipes out centuries old tradition of locally sustained economies.

In Mumbai a simple example is how our mothers would wait or walk and extra half mile for the Vasai vegetable vendors and we now shop in the malls in air-conditioned comfort for fresh and crisp looking vegetables and fruits wrapped in cellophane and clingfilm.

In one more instance (Tweet) of how the west has come a full circle back to local economies while we throng the air conditioned malls emptying the deep freeze and chiller shelves, here is a report on building the local food economy that Seattle is achieving.


In 2005, Sustainable Seattle began a local multiplier project focusing on the food industry in the Central Puget Sound region for this purpose. The project report, Why Local Linkages Matter: Findings from the Local Food Economy Study, explains why we should care about our spending choices when it comes to food and sustainability. It finds that locally directed spending supports a web of relationships, rooted in place, which makes for healthier and more prosperous communities.

Spending involves a choice about the kind of future we want to have. Why Local Linkages Matter explains why we should care about our spending choices when it comes to sustainability.


Community participation extends to many more facets of development and members of the community participate in many ways to contribute to the city. For instance,


Equipped with handheld computers and digital cameras, a team of volunteers paused at the intersection of Rainier Avenue South and Hudson Street in Columbia City, making note of a few pieces of litter and uneven pavement. They spent a recent drizzly Saturday afternoon surveying the area for problems and opportunities for improvement that will eventually be reported to the city and community stakeholders by the non-profit organization Sustainable Seattle. The volunteers hoped their work would lead to continued revitalization in the Columbia City and Hillman City neighborhoods........

"This is a wonderful opportunity to be methodical and detailed. It's not just calling up some city department and saying, 'We have a problem.' Since it's a focused, continued survey, hopefully it will make improvements over time," said volunteer and Mount Baker resident Deborah Sturm. ....Sturm said she was particularly concerned about the increased dumping of large items that she's noticed in the past few years.



Even as we enjoy our weekend sojourns to the malls, in the glorious tradition of Indian innovation can we marry the old and the new to achieve a happy medium that embraces the best of both worlds. Food for thought.

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