We would like to thank Jules Pretty and Katharine Deighton of the Centre
for Environment and Society at the University of Essex for helping to pro-
duce an early draft of this document. Much of the research used in this book
comes from that draft.
We also gratefully acknowledge the help of Anja Lyngbaek, John Page,
Becky Tarbotton, Ben Savill, Lindsay Toub, and Maya Mitchell, all of the
International Society for Ecology and Culture. Helpful insights were also
provided by Eve Sinton, Suzanna Jones, Brian Tokar, Miyoko Sakashita,
Stephanie Roth, Karen Shaw, and Forrest Foster. A. V. Krebs's newsletter,
The Agribusiness Examiner,
provided a great deal of valuable information
about US-based food corporations. Finally, we would like to honor the work
of Alan Lepage in Barre, Vermont, and Aba Lagruk in Ladakh, India-two
among the thousands of farmers worldwide whose local knowledge makes
local food possible.
The International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) is a nonprofit
organization that promotes locally based alternatives to the global consumer
culture. For more information, contact us at:
Devon TQ9 6EB
PO Box 9475
Berkeley, CA 94709
Web site: www.isec.org.uk
Counting all the people negatively affected by the global food system .
are really the majority
ofthe people in the world.
-Peter Rosset, Executive Director, Food First
FOOD IS AT THE CENTER OF A STORM the world over. Farms in the
North are going under in record numbers, even as farmers in the South are
being removed from the land by the millions. Food scares occur with in-
creasing regularity, leading many to wonder whether their meals are safe to
eat. Genetically altered crops have been planted on much of America's farm-
land, angering consumers and environmentalists, and setting off trade dis-
putes with Europe and Japan. Corporations are tightening their hold over
the world's food supply, inciting farmers and other citizens around the world
to call for boycotts, to attack fast-food chains, and to uproot genetically
All of this turbulence has its origins in the industrialization and global-
ization of food and farming. With food reduced to a commodity in a volatile
market, farming is becoming ever more specialized, capital-intensive, and
technology-based, and food marketing ever more globalized. These trends
are proving disastrous for consumers, farmers, local economies, and the en-
vironment; nonetheless, most governments intend to accelerate the process,
with policies that aim for higher exports and lower barriers to trade, more
chemicals and more genetic engineering.
There is, however, an opposing
current-a small but rapidly growing
groundswell of support for local food systems. Consumers and farmers are
forging links to promote smaller-scale,l more diversified, and ecologically
sound agriculture. These groups favor foods grown nearby, rather than glo-
bal commodities mass-produced thousands of miles away.