What can we learn from the new economics to support a fairer and more sustainable food and farming system? Mainstream industrial farming and food production is underpinned by orthodox economic analysis, which claims to show how we can create efficient, stable and wealth-maximising economies, based on “free markets” and “the invisible hand”. However, there is growing recognition that these neo-classical theories are woefully inadequate at understanding the dynamic nature of real world economies, and have become un-scientific justifications for processes that impoverish the majority and destroy the natural world. In this session, we will look at the empirical evidence which demonstrates the inadequacies of orthodox economic thinking, and also at insights from a range of new ideas including complexity and chaos theory, the study of networks, behavioural psychology and neuroscience, and new cultural narratives (e.g. de-growth, inter-being, sacred economics). We shall then explore how this new thinking can underpin policies and practical action to build the new food economies that are so needed.
Tim Crabtree works at Schumacher College, where he teaches economics and is also programme lead for ecological food systems. He worked for over 20 years in the local food sector,and before that for 5 years at the New Economics Foundation.He is a trustee of The Real Farming Trust.