This is an excerpt from a very good book that anyone who cares about their food ought to give a read:
“Can you think of any sector of our culture that promotes its wares with a slogan like ‘we pile it high and sell it cheap’? Any other sector of our economy would commit suicide with such a slogan…except for food. Why is that? I submit that we as a culture completely disrespect the 3 trillion critter in our digestive tract that cry out for quality of life while we cram quantity of junk down their collective gullet.
Perhaps a very personal illustration will help explain agriculture economics. My Mom and Dad bought this farm in 1961 for $49,000. Today it is assessed at at $500,000 – a tenfold increase. In 1961, weaned beef calves brought 35 cents a pound at the local sale barn. Today they bring 90 cents a pound – a twofold-plus increase. Corn brought $2 per bushel; today it’s $3 – not even a twofold increase. In 1961 diesel fuel was 15 cents a gallon; today it’s $1.50 – a tenfold increase. A bushel of apples sold for $8; today it sells for $12; not even a twofold increase. A moderate sized tractor sold for $1300; today’s equivalent sells for $26,000 a twenty fold increase.
Do you see a pattern here? ”
The chapter goes on but that little bit really drove it home for me. Cheap food comes at a price which is ironic. We are not willing to pay four times as much for quality food but we will pay higher premiums into our health plans, pensions and for pharmaceuticals so that we can be ‘healthier’. Seems kinda ass backwards to me.
The next time you shop for the cheapest head of lettuce, the cheapest t-shirt or the cheapest cut of chicken think about what the true cost of that purchase is. What are you saying yes to when you buy it? How much of your money is acting to create a world you want to live in?
I feel good when I buy my food direct from the farmer or our clothes from the hospital thrift seller or the craft merchant selling re-made clothing. I know where my money is going and what I am supporting because the chain is fairly short and very transparent. I like that.