The Price of Cheap Food

Sep, 26, 2014

When I tell people we try to eat only organic and local food, I hear so often how expensive this must be. I have to say that I’m getting a bit tired of hearing how food is too expensive, especially when I see the same people driving a super fancy car, drinking lattes at Starbucks or wearing $100+ purses. When did it become okay to spend loads of money on our appearance or drink $5

Picture from http://foodtank.com
Picture from http://foodtank.com

coffees daily but not want to spend money on our food? Food is our fuel and quality food (just like shoes and purses, I suspect) is going to cost some money. Food that is processed and not very good for you is what is cheap. But if you want to eat healthy, yummy and nutrient dense food, well then you can’t bargain. Don’t get me wrong, I think that organic food on sale is a great find and we should celebrate it, but we can’t keep expecting our food to get cheaper and cheaper when everything else is getting more expensive. Organic food is more expensive than nonorganic for a good reason: it costs more to produce in today’s society. But it’s the quality that should count.

The sad truth is that cheap food does come with a heavy price; you just might not know about it. In the quest to produce cheaper meat, for example, factory farms mass produce at a low cost by feeding animals hormones so they will grow faster and bigger. The animals also live in very small areas, which causes disease outbreaks. To prevent this and combat it, the animals are regularly fed low doses of antibiotics. All these medications cause huge damage to our eco-system and to our bodies. The animals are being treated horribly from the time they are born until they go to slaughter. So, yes, when we demand cheap food, we also keep these practices going, and the environment and these animals are the ones paying the price for our cheap food.

Nonorganic produce is another story. To prevent its being ruined by pests, it’s regularly sprayed with toxic pesticides. I know you have seen the pictures of farmers using full protective gear when spraying the crops because, yes, it’s super harmful to both the environment and to our bodies. Pesticides are the only substances that kill living things that we intentionally release into our environment. Pesticides have been linked to a wide range of human health hazards, ranging from cancer and reproductive issues to endocrine disruption. Children in particular are at high risk when exposed to them. So, once again, the environment and all the workers who harvest these crops are exposed to heavy pesticides.

As we question whether organic and fair trade food is really worth the cost, I would say yes, that your health and that of the workers who produce the food, and the environment are worth it. As you see, someone is always paying a heavy price for cheap food.

September 29, 2014

Fredrika Syren

Fredrika Syren is an environmental activist and writer. In 2016, she founded the website Green-Mom.com where she shared her family’s journey of living zero waste. She lives in San Diego, California with her husband James and their children Bella, Noah, and Liam. Fredrika and her family were recently featured in the documentary Zero Time to Waste. Fredrika is also the author of Zero Waste for Families - A Practical Guidebook (which you can buy on this site)

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