By Karl Kupers on February 24, 2011

Globalization has affected most if not all of our lives. The products we buy are made in far away places, the information we are able to know instantly has no borders, and the food we eat can come from anywhere on the planet. This phenomenon was supposed to make our lives better in that goods could be produced with the least cost available, nothing was impossible to get, inventories could be leaner, and the delivery was nearly instantaneous.

Now we begin to question the distance something travels and its’ impact on the environment, the ability to have jobs here in America instead of other parts of the planet, and the freshness and nutrition of food that is produced more for beauty and travel than nutrition and safety. As we ponder these new impacts, the idea of a regional economy, a regional food system, a regional manufacturing opportunity is finding its way into our discussion. Certainly a regional food system has been an important idea within Shepherd’s Grain from the beginning and we spend much of our time incorporating more partners in making this a reality. There are many aspects of a food system ranging from production to processing to distribution to eventual consumption. An integral part of all these aspects is cost and pricing. Commodities fit very well into the globalization scheme as that opened up new markets for all products produced anywhere in the world. The global trade of commodities was already in place with imports and exports playing such a large role historically. There is now a new player involved in this trading of commodities and it is the hedge fund buying community. Supply and demand still determine the direction of the commodity market but the money investor determines the heights of the peaks and depths of the valleys. In a word, the commodity market has become synthetic. It is not a natural reflection of global supply, demand, or weather affecting the real value of a commodity. Shepherd’s Grain pricing program reduces the impact of global supply, demand, and/or weather impacts. Why should a drought half way around the world have such an impact on the price of bread in the Pacific Northwest? A regional food system is achievable with your support of local producers and local production.

Another sign of the new regionalization of our economy can be seen in the February 12th issue of “The Economist”. The lead story is about 3D printing. The idea has been around for as long as Shepherd’s Grain but is now becoming a very real opportunity for the small business entrepreneur in any region of the world. To try and describe it briefly, this printer can make itself. The lead story is how a printer built a Stradivarius violin and it played beautifully. Within the article they speak of a grandfather clock being printed on a 3D printer and when hung on the wall began to keep time immediately. The idea of individualism of production and non-globalization manufacturing all fit well into the idea of a regional economy and change the whole emphasis of community.

As always we thank you for your support of the local Shepherd’s Grain farm families and our effort in creating a regional food system.