We want to meditate a bit more on the implications of the content of the Kneading Conference West that we just completed up in Mt. Vernon. As we said in Friday’s post wheat growers, grain millers, bakers and researchers, both public and private, were working together for a couple of goals.
At the simplest level, the aim was to promote the making of artisan bread. But goat cheese makers, cider and beer brewers, fruit and vegetable growers, natural and organic grocery stores and other related food producers also were part of the mix.
At the more ambitious level, many are trying to rebuild the infrastructure and community knowledge that existed 100+ years ago. They need to restore granaries, silos, parts and equipment suppliers, small flour mills and more to recreate the self-supporting small communities of the past. They want to support small farms and help those farms become productive enough to raise a family and pay a few employees.
This is a complex web that conference founders from Maine are beginning to tackle. It wasn’t so far gone out here in the West, because we are only about 100 years away from the first pioneer farmers.
IFO has been in on two major societal revolutions and wonders whether this could be a third. The first revolution was the development of personal computers. A few decades ago there were dozens of little backyard, private companies. There is still some change occurring, but the major outlines are finally clear. Everybody “has” to have a computer. Period.
The second big change was the Internet. Businesses went through pretty much the same evolution that computers did, and overlapped in the late 1990s. That game is just about finished, too. Everyone “has” to have Internet access.
In both cases, struggling companies either went away, were gobbled up by more successful ones, or became big guns themselves. Think Amazon, Google, Yahoo, eBay, craigslist, Cisco, Symantec, and several others.
If we are looking at another major change, this has implications for investors. It’s good to be ahead of the wave… if this is, indeed, a wave. That’s the big question, which we will deal with in the next post.