We’ve proved we can develop the beginnings of a local food network, but how can you exchange goods internationally with meaning? We’ve seen the potential (and limitations) of fair trade, but what’s feral trade all about?
Feral Trade is a public experiment trading goods over social networks. The use of the word ‘feral’ describes a process which is wilfully wild (as in pigeon) as opposed to romantically or nature-wild (wolf). The passage of goods can open up wormholes between diverse social settings, routes along which other information, techniques or individuals can potentially travel.
The first registered feral trade was in 2003, with the import of 30kg coffee direct from Sociedad Cooperative de Cafecultores Nonualcos R.L. (CODECANO) in San Pedro Nonualco El Salvador to the Cube Microplex, Bristol UK. The import was negotiated using only social contacts, and conducted via email, bank transfer and SMS. The coffee is traded on through the UK and Europe over social, cultural and occupational networks; harnessing the surplus freight potential of recreational, commuter and cultural travel for the practical circulation of goods. New products are chosen for their portability, shelf-life and capacity for sociability: feral trade goods in current circulation include the coffee from El Salvador plus grappa from Croatia, mountain-grown antidepressants from Bulgaria and fresh sweets from the Islamic Republic of Iran.