Presuppositions of Local Production

March 10, 2014

We must clearly define what we mean by local production since “local” production has come to mean different things to different people. There are those who have turned “local” production into an ecological cause, a healthy alternative, or a political statement. Such “local” initiatives have little to do with healthy localism. In fact, without a special set of circumstances, even handcrafted goods or homegrown crops will not necessarily enrich a local culture.

Cajun crayfish etouffee

Cajun crayfish etouffee. Photo by jeffreyw

The principal presupposition of authentic local production is a close interrelationship between producers, inhabitants, and the locality. There must be that turning inward by which a people use their own local resources to make products suited to their tastes and oriented towards the perfection of their society.

New England Clam Chowder

New England Clam Chowder

In this sense, demand should influence production much more than production should determine demand. By constantly adjusting available materials to local tastes, producer and consumer should become the “co-creators” of goods. For example, a farmer might plant crops he perceives are both suited to his soil and prized by his customers. A local cuisine develops when chefs constantly adjust local dishes and native ingredients to reflect what local people like.

Le Venacais cheese from Santo-Pietro-di-Venaco, Corsica. Photo by Pierre Bona.

Le Venacais cheese from Santo-Pietro-di-Venaco, Corsica. Photo by Pierre Bona.

We might mention as an example certain sheep cheeses from the wild and brambly regions of Corsica that are coated with rosemary, thyme, fern leaves, fennel seeds, savory, or juniper berries.* In the profoundly Christian souls of the artisans who make these fine cheeses, we encounter a passion for perfection that leads to the search for the ideal cheese through the constant interaction between the cheese makers and the local population over the course of generations. Hence, local production is a distilling process where the people experience the spiritual joy of seeing the product of their joint creativity with the materials at hand.

Various sushi displayed Photo by Multichill.

Various sushi displayed Photo by Multichill.

Local production is enriched even more when families refine their products over generations and the good word of their quality provides natural advertising and makes such products a source of local pride. In this way, an area becomes “known” for its particular wines, fruits, or handicrafts.

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* See, for example, these Corsican cheeses: Pecurinu, A Filetta, Montatimu, Brin d’Amour, and Fleur du Maquis.

 

John Horvat, Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go (York, Penn.: York Press, 2013), 276-7.

 

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