Michael Hallam talks about the food loop game in this week’s column.

Mike Hallam

Let’s face it, most of us don’t have a clue what happens to our money once it leaves our  hands, and we have even less idea where it comes from.

Ultimately, nearly all the money in circulation comes from banks which are licenced by  governments to lend it into existence in the form of interest-bearing loans. (That’s debt to  me and you). There is effectively no limit to how much debt the banking sector is authorised  and willing to lend out and there is little chance that it can easily be paid back under current  market conditions. Modern money is essentially loaned into existence.

Back in the 1930s Henry Ford was reported to have said that it was a good thing that most  Americans didn’t know how banking really works, because if they did, “there’d be a  revolution before tomorrow morning”. In Lancaster District we are planning our own quiet  financial revolution; one involving a game that encourages local spending.

For the past five years The Small Green Consultancy, (SGCo) a local ‘think tank’, has been conducting practical research into how to keep more money in the local economy and, in 2014, teamed up with LESS to run a pilot project of SGCo’s local money system. This was named the Food Loop Game.

The Food Loop Game builds on work by the New Economics Foundation, that explores the ‘Local Multiplier Effect’ – the idea that money spent with local businesses that have a strong local commitment tends to stick around in the local economy for longer – compared to money spent with ‘out of town’ businesses.

The Food Loop Game asks customers to evidence spending with local food and drink businesses in the form of receipts, and that money is then tracked as it makes its way around the local food economy. Participating customers and businesses get to track what their money is doing long after they have spent it via monthly reports.

The aim of the game is to create ongoing positive feedback for all players that will, in turn, encourage and reward further local spending.

The more real goods and services we can create and exchange locally, the more added values we can create and the less likely it is that we will need to go to the banking sector for additional loans (with interest).

To find out more: come to the Midsummer’s Market on Friday 17th June from 10:00-17:00 in Lancaster Market Square, and chat with the LESS team.

To read this blog in full visit the Food Loop Game website.

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