What Is Slow Money?

by Brandi Savitt – June 17, 2011

Down to Earth Investing

With all this talk on Fab & Fru this week about eating a healthier, more conscience diet, we thought we’d conclude by talking about the trend of Slow Money – a growing movement in the worlds of investing and philanthropy!  The concept of Slow Money ties together our nation’s food system, our economy and local entrepreneurship. — It asks us to make a long term investment for ourselves as well as for the well being of future generations to come.  Quite a mouthful, right? Ok, so, what exactly is “Slow Money”?

The Slow Money Movement

Inspired by the Slow Food movement – Woody Tasch, former chairman of the Investor’s Circle (a network of over 200 professional investors) - founded  Slow Money in 2008  to encourage investors and donors to reevaluate investment practices in the 21st century by investing in social capital, small food enterprises, organic farms and local food systems.

According to Slow Money.org, while farmers markets, community supported agriculture and organic food are all becoming more popular among consumers, less than 3% of U.S. food sales and less than 1% of U.S. farmland is actually organic.  Farmers see less than 9 cents of every food dollar spent. Pesticide and petrochemical use in agriculture are at an all time high and soil erosion is being called the ‘quiet crisis of the 21st century’ “.

Changing the Future of Our Food

Slow Money looks at philanthropy and investment dedicated to rebuilding local food systems. By “saving farmland, supporting a new generation of small and mid-size organic farmers, rebuilding local and regional food processing & distribution”,  investors can both literally see the fruits of their investment and also greatly impact the health of our country.

Slowing Down the Speed of Capitalism

The Slow Money philosophy is not just about supporting new food systems, but rather looking at the instability of the economy as a whole, and why we need to reevaluate how we invest.  Woody Tasch explains in his video that in 1960, there were about 3 million shares a day traded on the New York Stock Exchange.  However, today… there are about 5 billion!  His point is “with money speeding around so fast, how can we possibly know where it’s going?”  This is one reason we are seeing such a crisis in the world’s economy.  Tasch also suggests as a culture, we need to pay more attention to where our dollars are going and have more realistic return expectations on our money and how the result of our investments will impact future generations.

Slow Money Success Stories

There are more and more Slow Money success stories popping up around the country, but to get a taste of a couple, check out these two stories:

  1. See how two value based food entrepreneurs untied 65 local investors to help them create the popular Farm to Table restaurant Gather in Berkley, California.
  2. Check out this NPR story of how an organic dairy farmer turned to his customers to help him finance a bottling plant at his barn!

Impact Your Community – Change the World

If are interested in learning more and even looking for your own Slow Money investment, go to the Slow Money site and find your local group.  If your passionate about the concept, but there is not a local chapter near you… talk to the alliance about helping you start your own!

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