Advantages of local food systems (fwd)

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Fri, 31 Jan 97 9:43:44 EST
From: WLockeretz@infonet.tufts.edu
To: SANET-MG@ces.ncsu.edu
Subject: Advantages of local food systems

Andy Fisher lists among the advantages of a community food system the 
"recycling of local dollars into local economies." This point has been made 
often, for example to support local currency schemes. 

However, I question whether recycling money locally is necessarily an 
admirable thing. Clearly, it serves the self-interest of the local residents 
(i.e., when your local economy thrives, you benefit economically too). But is 
that a justification for preferentially spending your money locally? (Here I 
am not dealing with the other arguments offered on behalf of community-
oriented economic systems, such as better chances for controlling how things 
are produced.) Suppose your local economy is already doing well -- your 
community is downright rich. Couldn't one argue that it is better to target 
your spending to places that need it more because of poverty, unemployement, 
and so forth? These could be elsewhere in the country, or -- dare I say it? --
in another country. (Granted, existing mechanisms of international trade 
typically siphon off most of the benefits that you hoped would go to the 
people who need them the most, but alternatives such as Fair Trade could deal 
with this problem.)

In short, is "let's look after our own" a morally valid principle for making 
spending choices if one is concerned with issues of economic justice and such?

William Lockeretz
Tufts University