to find out how they are produced and to talk to the producer if we would like them to do it
The same is true of work in the national, or global, economy. People can be thrown out
of work by a decision taken on the other side of the world. Workers often have no way
of knowing whether their work is part of a process that is harming the Earth and, if they
do, there is precious little they can do about it. But if we are working for, or trading with,
someone who lives locally, there is much more chance of having a say.
We can solve the problems of remoteness by developing communities which are self-re-
liant. This is not the same as total self-sufficiency; there will always be a need for some
trade with other communities and other parts of the world. Self-reliant communities are
ones where producing goods locally for local needs is the norm rather than the exception,
where travel outside the community is a pleasure rather than a daily economic necessity,
and where people are more than cogs in vast machines.
Developing this kind of community means putting power in the hands of local people,
rather than national or multi-national organisations. This is not power over anyone else, but
the power to decide how to run our own lives.
Our long-term vision may be to replace our present large cities with many smaller settle-
ments where the majority of people can have access to land for growing their own food.
But in the short-term, most of the food eaten in cities will continue to come from farms
at some distance. A useful connection can be made by making a direct link between con-
sumers and farmers, to the benefit of both.
These days many farmers are finding it hard to make a living. Farms are small busi-
nesses, so they have virtually no bargaining power when it comes to selling produce to
huge companies like food processors or super-markets. When times get hard it is the farm-
ers' incomes that get squeezed.
Most organic farmers also dislike selling their produce through supermarkets for ethical
reasons. Supermarkets insist on excessive packaging, and demand high cosmetic standards,
which can mean discarding as much as 50% of the produce as 'sub-standard'. Produce sold
to them can also be transported hundreds of miles then sent back to be sold in the local