Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Slow Money Investing, Put Your Money Where Your Heart Is


Transition Sarasota kicked off  Eat Local Week with a lecture and book-signing by Woody Tasch, author of Slow Money, Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered”.

 In his book, Tasch’s ideas on investing with a philanthropic purpose in small food enterprises such as local farms has created a real flurry of interested investors and potential companies in search of business loans.  He makes the claim that, “We have serious structural problems in the food system”.  Changing our current system to use more local, conscientious food resources will promote prosperity and security of the community.  Considering the resources used to ship our food the average 1500 miles to the consumer is just one example. These ideas have led to a wave of millions of dollars of investments into small food businesses nationwide.
Woody admits that he is surprised about the “movement” he started. Now he is the founder and chairman of the Slow Money Alliance, helping to connect investors and the businesses with which will rebuild our food economy. 

He went on to say that our money moves “too fast”, creating the volatility we see so frequently in today’s financial markets.  “Although our economic growth is substantial, our well-being is not,” Woody said.

Over the past few decades, our investment options have switched from the outright purchase of stock in certain companies to the complex world of mutual funds, mergers, and takeovers of small companies by larger ones that can compete more efficiently. Our “financial managers” have distanced themselves from the consumer leaving us unaware of the actual companies we are investing in.

Our money may not be invested as we would choose; companies we have a connection to and would help restore our food system to a sustainable one.  Instead, we have developed a system that’s focused on the rate and speed of returns.

With the extreme highs and lows of the markets of recent years, have our 401K’s really showed such spectacular gains?  Sure, we had some major gains years ago, but they were followed by a collapse and feelings of insecurity and panic that doomsday was on the horizon. Then we bailed out the big guys and left small businesses to fend on their own, definitely not helping our well-being.

So we have more stuff; and cheaper stuff in more ways than one.  We have less costly food but of inferior quality. We are undernourished, overweight, plagued with immunity problems and allergies. Again, this is not helping our well-being.

“It’s time to stare the pig in the face”, says Woody. And he means this literally. If you are tired of being fed “pink slime”; then take control of your food by investing in your food supply.  Why hand your money over to brokers to invest in companies where only money is the bottom line; invest where you are the bottom line.

In just 4 years since he wrote the book, the Slow Money Alliance has 17 chapters and 6 investment clubs that have invested $24 million in 185 deals supporting small food enterprises and farms. In investment clubs, each member invests a small amount of money and takes part in each investment decision. 

The following morning there was an investor’s briefing in which Woody discussed the nuts and bolts, or more like the fruits and nuts of Slow Money Investing. Perhaps the time has come for people to take control of their money and well-being and invest in the future of their food resources.  It is time to stare the pig in the face and look in the mirror for the answers to change the status quo. Find out more at Slow Money.



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