The Hefty Price of Cheap Food

May, 09, 2018

By Fredrica Syren:

In a world where consumers want more for less money, its no wonder businesses and producers feel that the way to make more money is by taking shortcuts. The meat, egg, chicken and fish industries are no different: in their quest to produce more volume at a faster rate, businesses rely on the regular misuse of hormones and antibiotics.

The sad truth is that cheap food does come with a hefty price; you just might not know about it. In the quest to produce cheaper meat, for example, factory farms mass produce it at low cost by feeding animals hormones so they will grow bigger, faster. 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 great damage to our ecosystem 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.In the US alone, for example, 80% of all antibiotics produced are used on healthy animals raised for food to make them grow faster and as a precaution against the spread of diseases due to unsanitary industrial farms.

The misuse of antibiotics in meat comes with a heavy price — dangerous superbugs resistant to antibiotics used by humans. Sadly, antibiotic-resistant infections kill hundreds of thousands of people around the world each year. Antibiotic-contaminated meats such as chicken, turkey, farmed fish and seafood, pork, beef and lamb put our children and ourselves at risk. Its estimated that about 50,000 people in the US die each year due to antibiotic-resistant infections.

Were now facing a future when antibiotics no longer will be as effective, so routine procedures like C-sections, hip replacements or any other surgeries will come with a huge risk of antibiotic-resistant infections. A new British study warns that, unless we get the misuse of antibiotics under control by 2050, 10 million people a year might die because of resistance to antibiotics. What once was considered a miracle drug has gotten a bad reputation because of its misuse in agriculture.

Nonorganic produce is another story. To prevent its being ruined by pests, itis regularly sprayed with toxic pesticides. I know you have seen the pictures of farmers using full protective gear when spraying the crops because, yes, its 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. 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 steep price for cheap food.

It’s a very sad truth that cheap food does come with a heavy price; you just might not know about it. We can’t keep expecting our food to get cheaper and cheaper when everything else is becoming more expensive.

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)

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Related Posts

Press Kit
Book - Zero Waste for Families
Watch for Free in Oct
Zero Time To Waste Film Poster

Get weekly UPdateS

Let’s stay in touch so we can take this journey together!