“No army can stop an idea whose time has come.” –Victor Hugo
This is an introduction to parallels between bitcoin and local food systems and why the bitcoin model is important for a decentralized food system. I will be writing more in depth on how bitcoin can serve the agricultural and local food communities and how those communities can help grow bitcoin-related technologies.
Once upon a time there was a world rampant with war, disease and corruption. Within the darkness brought by these never-ending wars, a pleasantly old-fashioned, but science-based local food system emerged against an entrenched system of politically allied, centralized agribusiness and chemical companies. This new system brought people the food they needed along with knowledge and resources to produce their own foods, creating community interdependence to facilitate health and peaceful communities worldwide.
Growing in parallel to this food renaissance was a brand new monetary system; a system created, cultivated and nurtured by brilliant minds intent on the possibilities and potential reach of a decentralized digital network. Those who participated in the early days of the digital currency technology saw how it could serve the world and how Bitcoin-related technologies could be springboards for the birth of a new Internet.
By now, you’ve probably at least heard murmurs about bitcoin. What is it? Bitcoin is the protocol that creates the digital payment method and currency. It was started in 2009 by a person, or group, identifying as “Satoshi Nakamoto.” The digital currency, bitcoins, relies on an open source* protocol written by Satoshi Nakamoto and refined by additional users over the years. The payment method, Bitcoin, is part of this protocol and dependent on the creation of bitcoins.
*Open source is when anyone can contribute, like Wikipedia.
Bitcoin holds the promise of transforming the way we think of and use currency with a track record of delivering on the promises of efficiency, usability and transparency.
Early adopters of bitcoin saw a need which this digital currency filled: an easy, efficient way to transfer funds anywhere in the world, instantaneously, with little to no fee and no intermediary—a direct, peer-to-peer currency. These early adopters took it upon themselves to iron out the wrinkles in the system, create alternatives, and grow the demand.
Thankfully, setting up a Bitcoin wallet is as simple and easy (and free) as setting up an email address, just ensure that you make safe backups of your wallet’s private key information. Or you can tap into the enthusiasts near you. Or link a bitcoin wallet to your bank account for easy purchase of bitcoins.
And, it’s as easy to send and receive value as sending an email. Everything you need for Bitcoin, you already have if you are reading this article.
As for transparency, you can hardly get more transparent than a publicly-available and user-verified ledger. This ledger is known as the “block chain.”
Detractors point to some of the inherent flaws within the bitcoin system. These are potential flaws that exist with any monetary exchange medium.
For example, naysayers claim that cold storage of bitcoins can lead to loss or theft, a risk that exists for every currency throughout history, and, something that can be controlled by safeguards put in place by the user.
Just like any other currency, Bitcoin is susceptible to the failures of its users. Even with bitcoin’s growing pains, we have seen core advocates support Bitcoin when these setbacks occur.
Bitcoin & Real Food
When multiple parties work together on food production, they create the synergy needed for diverse products to nourish communities. Reliance on central food production or processing becomes moot.
Bitcoin “mining” works the same way: many people add to the base product and the vast community of miners make it independent of any one person, corporation, government or other centralized system.
While most of the “work” done on mining is done electronically—through a computer—the community of “miners” keep Bitcoin transactions going. You see, “mining” is the process that both creates bitcoins and allows each transaction to be verified independently in the blockchain.
In the same way, our local food systems would not exist without the active, voluntary participation of those members who grow food, cultivate artisan products, build food networks and contribute to the local food system in a myriad of other ways.
In the world of Bitcoin, miners are like farmers or gardeners, producing something of value and adding to the economy. With farming and gardening you get natural growth. You put time in and get rewards out.
Same with Bitcoin, miners produce the “content” and, by all users sharing in its value, we actually increase the value of bitcoins. It’s a win-win community–we all share in the benefit of what we are doing.
When farmers and local food producers are feeding their communities, it becomes imperative that they are the ones controlling their monetary assets. When banks have control of the money, it is leverage against small producers and the local food communities they serve. For example, farmers are at risk of having their assets frozen by banks for making cash deposits from farmers markets.
Prior to Bitcoin, cash was the best way for farmers at markets to avoid hefty credit card fees that artificially inflated the price of their food without adding any value to the end consumer. Banking ends up being a lose-lose situation the same as industrial agriculture.
Thankfully, farmers are pretty clever and direct-marketing farmers are usually open to new ideas. Just like the couple in this clip, imagine the success you might have in introducing new farmers to the idea and uses of bitcoin. It takes adapting and it takes outreach.
If a farmer would rather have cash than bitcoins, they can still have the benefit of the miniscule transaction fee possible with Bitcoin by using Bitpay or a similar system.
In another, unfortunate parallel to the growing local food systems, bitcoin, as a decentralized currency, sees bureaucratic action and lopsided enforcement, like our small farms do. Although it is the corporate food systems that cause the illnesses, and central banks that cause inflation, we see the small farms and alternative currencies attacked as criminals.
These isolated attacks on leaders in the bitcoin technology and those in the local food systems, increase the importance of bringing both these systems into the mainstream. Both decentralized systems have a strong support base that rallies to the defense of the targeted individuals.
Bitcoin and local food systems would be a beautiful marriage!
Freedom and prosperity come from creating and using what works. Bitcoin works. Local food works. Imagine what they can do synergistically.
The idea of Bitcoin delivers on a promises of transparent, direct peer-to-peer, borderless, bankless, easy-to-use currency and payment method. Local food systems bring communities food security, nutrition, and rebuilding of precious soils, empowering the individuals in that community.
The choice is ours to further nourish alternatives to destructive failing systems that we’ve taken for granted for decades. It will not be easy, but we are made to do difficult tasks. It’s time. Create your wallet. Grow a garden. Become a miner. Find a local farmer.
Bitcoin is the foundation for a new economy. Local food systems are the nourishment for a free world.
Darrell Duane, a consultant with Bitcoin Solutions, contributed to this article.
Wherever you are in your personal journey toward clean living and local food, thank you for joining me in mine. I look forward to sharing it with you.