Book Review: Reading Menu

Woody Tasch

Reading Menu

Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered

by Woody Tasch
Chelsea Green Publishing, 224 pp., $21.95

Cooking Tent: Sunday, Nov. 1, 3:30pm

Many of us are familiar with Slow Food, the movement that exhorts followers to buy locally grown and sustainably produced products; to savor real, honestly prepared foods; and to place greater value on the art of dining. Now there's a movement called Slow Money, which like Slow Food urges investors to connect their money to real communities and sustainable business practices that respect the environment, soil fertility, and small-scale food production in order to realize only modest returns on endeavors that benefit society at large.

The Slow Money movement is the brainchild of veteran venture capitalist and entrepreneur Woody Tasch, who argues in Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money that money moves too fast in today's mainstream market. Conventional investment practices have unreal expectations about rate of return, and this has fostered the situation in which attaining high returns becomes the sole focus of money management. All other considerations – humane business practices, environmental viability, responsible lending, even honesty – become secondary considerations, if they are considered at all. Modern corporate capitalism erodes the relationships between producer and consumer, product and value, people and the land they inhabit.

Inquiries Into the Nature of Slow Money is Tasch's manifesto for a movement he hopes will attract a new type of investor and alter the path of America's misplaced financial priorities. It outlines his vision of a sustainable fiduciary practice based on three principles: quality products, small-scale business endeavors that help solve social problems, and a strategy of community-building that integrates sustainable food growing, manufacturing, and distribution. Conversational and informative, the book comprises a series of loosely linked essays on the urgency of rethinking how we invest and spend our money. Tasch peppers his ruminations with jokes, anecdotes, and even poetry with a performer's ease. On the heels of the first Slow Money National Gath­er­ing, held in September in Santa Fe, N.M., and the Texas Book Festival, Tasch will also be speaking to a group of Austin community leaders, investors, and food heroes at an invitation-only event on Nov. 3.

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