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Tue Jan 24, 2012, 11:45 AM

beyond 'free' or 'fair' trade: mexican farmers go local


Tío Joel rode his small don­key down the dirt road to his green­house to show us his so­lu­tion to keep­ing small farm­ers on their land in south­ern Mex­ico. At about sev­enty years old, he could han­dle a ma­chete or lift a 20-kilo sack of com­post as eas­ily as any of us, though the brace he wore around his waist was a sign of prob­lems to come.

Tak­ing a break from chop­ping green ma­nure for com­post for his pop­u­lar toma­toes, he ex­plained why a campesino like him could ben­e­fit from using or­ganic meth­ods: “In the har­vest this year a lot of toma­toes were being har­vested and the price went way down to five pesos per kilo, but we sell ours for seven. I go from house to house and sell it small scale, but we sell out our toma­toes be­cause they’re well-known … on Sun­day we ran out of toma­toes, we sell so many.”

Trade pol­icy in the United States usu­ally gets cast into two op­pos­ing camps–"free" trade and "fair" trade, a di­chotomy that as­sumes local pro­duc­tion in the Global South must be sold else­where. In­deed, we usu­ally think of the de­mand for local, or­ganic foods as com­ing from North Amer­ica or Eu­rope. But within coun­tries like Mex­ico, there's an­other way to ap­proach the issue, look­ing at global im­port and ex­port ver­sus local pro­duc­tion and con­sump­tion. In the United States, it has emerged as the "lo­cal­ist" move­ment, which to many seems an un­af­ford­able lux­ury com­pared to the ac­ces­si­bil­ity of cheap im­ported food. But in the state of Oax­aca, Mex­ico, rais­ing and eat­ing your own food and pro­duc­ing for the local mar­ket has be­come a strat­egy for cul­tural and eco­nomic sur­vival in a hos­tile trade en­vi­ron­ment?

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Reply beyond 'free' or 'fair' trade: mexican farmers go local (Original post)
xchrom Jan 2012 OP
BlueToTheBone Jan 2012 #1

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Tue Jan 24, 2012, 01:55 PM

1. It's good to see that farmers

are able to see beyond the market to what works for them.

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