Sue Conley and Peggy Smith of Cowgirl Creamery. (Image:

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As America considers ways to pick up the pieces of our smashed up economy, a former venture capitalist suggests that fast money helped to derail it. Woody Tasch says any fix must include slow money-- investments and returns at the pace of sustainable business development.

Woody Tasch says any fix must include slow money -- investments and returns at the pace of sustainable business development.

For slow money think slow food. The slow food movement pushes healthy, sustainable local food, in contrast to fast food that mostly comes frozen on a truck, and takes profits out of communities. Woody Tasch is chairman of Investor's Circle, a network of sustainable investors and author of the new book, "Inquiries into the Nature of Slow Money: Investing as if Food, Farms, and Fertility Mattered".

Tasch: "We need slow money quickly. You know, the truly insane thing would be at this point in time, knowing what we know about the planet and knowing what we know about the weak underbelly of global capitalism, it would be complete insanity to just try to hit the reset button, put a little bit more regulation in place, pump a lot of money into the system and hope for a different outcome. You know, the relationship between our species and the planet is now coming to the fore in obvious ways. And we have to take some of our capital and bring it down to earth, slow it down, invest it in healthy relationships between enterprise and the biosphere."

And the rate of return on this kind of investment, according to Tasch: "Five percent. The approach here is to go squarely at the gap between philanthropy and venture capital, which is a gap which leaves tens of thousands of small local first sustainable enterprises without access to risk capital. And there are actually tens of thousands of these enterprises all across the United States, businesses like the White Dog café in Philadelphia or Butterworks Farm up in Vermont. Cowgirl Creamery in California. Wholesome Harvest in Iowa. So a whole host of small food enterprises that are not in business to try to become global corporations, but are in business to create thriving, profitable small enterprises that enrich their communities and leave the planet better for future generations."

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Hosted by Steve Curwood, "Living on Earth" is an award-winning environmental news program that delves into the leading issues affecting the world we inhabit. More "Living on Earth.

PRI's coverage of social entrepreneurship is supported by the Skoll Foundation.

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