Healthy Local Food Systems, Healthy Local Economies
Originally published on GreenMoney Journal
by Don Shaffer
At RSF Social Finance, we are extraordinarily passionate about sustainable agriculture. Why are we so passionate about it?
We believe it is now imperative to make a two-pronged case for sustainable agriculture: (1) it is the obvious choice for ecological stewardship reasons, and (2) we can feed the world in the 21st century using these methods. If you doubt this, I urge readers to check out developments at the Center for Diversified Farming Systems at UC Berkeley, for example. CDFS includes a multi-disciplinary team of researchers who are busting the myth that we need industrial-scale monocrops and massive applications of petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides to support a food economy that can work for all.
We believe the time has arrived to go “beyond organic.” Consumers are finally getting access to organic food at reasonable prices (relative to 25 years ago). This is great. But we’re more excited about the maturing of the local food movement, which includes beyond organic. One of the hottest areas of venture capital investment today, for example, is the shift of food distribution from conventional hub-and-spoke retail grocery stores to more direct farm-to-table delivery. RSF has loans and/or investments in many of the leading players in this field. We believe another promising area that will mature over the next decade is Biodynamic agriculture and other methods like advanced microbial composting. If organic is “doing less bad” to the soil, then Biodynamic is “actively doing good” to build soil health & fertility.
Don Shaffer is President & CEO at RSF Social Finance