In The Transition Handbook the author Rob Hopkins talks about ‘the cake analogy’. In his analogy the cake is the fundamental goods that all people need for a life of well-being namely food, shelter, clothes and energy. In the past these were all sourced locally. The icing on the cake was the extra things that couldn’t be sourced locally which might be things like spices, certain fabrics and metals for tools and construction and, in modern times, high-tech products.
In many economies the cake is now imported from places where it can be found cheaper. Local sources then provide the icing and cherries on the top.
What this means is that resilient local economies don’t exist any more. We have outsourced the provision of our fundamental needs which puts us in a precarious position, dependant on trading ‘partners’ who may end up being less than reliable. Crucially, as the price of energy increases the cost of all goods will increase and the cost of importing goods will increase the most.
Of course international trade (as well as long-distance national trade) will continue in the future but it will be minimised, for the simple reason that it will be expensive. Long distance trade will only be for goods that, for whatever reason, can’t be sourced locally.
The benefits of local production are many. Local production:
- increases employment
- keeps income and profits local
- reduces carbon emissions
- creates self-sufficiency and resilience, and
- provides security and certainty in the face of increasing energy costs, economic fluctuations and international conflicts.
A large measure of local production independence is the cake; national and international interdependence should be the icing on top.