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Tag: Walmart Mentality

Don’t be a Cheap Food Family

Posted in Food for Thought

When you buy food, what is your number one concern? Is it how healthy the food is? What chemicals might be in it? Or is your number one concern how cheap the food is? Buying cheap isn’t limited to buying the cheaper off brands at the supermarket. I would consider anything you buy at the supermarket to be cheap food. 

I know what some of you are thinking: “It costs so much to feed my family.” That’s true, but it’s not as expensive as it used to be. In 1950 the average family spent about 30% of their income on food. Today we spend less that 13% of our income on food.[3] That’s not because we’ve suddenly started eating less, if anything, we’re eating more. No, the reason is that food has gotten cheaper. 

The price of basic food items has risen only 3-5x in the last 60 years. However, the price of processed food has increased 10-15x. A small bag of potato chips costs you over $8.00 a pound.[1] Meanwhile, potatoes run about $1 a pound. A 20oz soda also costs about $8.32 a gallon.[2] Suddenly, raw milk at $7.00 a gallon doesn’t sound so bad. I explain this in more detail in my article, Local Food isn’t too Expensive, Conventional Food is too Cheap.

How much Effort do You Put into the Food Your Family Eats?

If you want to show someone how much you appreciate them, the best way is to spend some effort on them. Wives care more about effort than how much their husband spends on them. Kids would much rather their parents spend time with them than get more presents. Remember the last time you were really impressed at a restaurant or other business? Chances are, it had to do with effort. 

Going to the drive thru is about as little effort as you can put out. Conversely, going to the farmers market, joining a co-op, and visiting a local farm shows that you really care about the quality of the food you eat. Local food takes more effort to buy and more effort to cook. This effort shows your family that you care about them. 

When the De Beers diamond company came up with the idea that men should spend about 2 months salary on an engagement ring, they understood something important. Not that diamonds should be expensive, but that women care about effort. It takes effort to buy a ring that costs 2 months salary. 

If a millionaire bought the same ring as a truck driver, his fiance would be insulted. The millionaire could make that much in a few days, whereas the truck driver’s fiance is overjoyed. He spent a good six months saving up for that ring. That’s effort. 

But by all means, go get drive thru, or pick up some microwave meals. That will show your family how much you care. 

 

Your Family Deserves Better Food

You know the old saying, You Are What You Eat. Well, it’s true. Where do you think your body’s cells come from? From thin air? No, you body is constantly replacing old cells with new ones, and to do that, it needs nutrients from the food you eat. That’s why eating quality food is so important. Quality counts.

Eating cheap food is like building a house using rotted wood. You may have gotten a good deal on it. But it’ll cost you later. Every time your child eats, their body uses that food as building material. Is that building material quality? Or is it the cheap rotted wood that cost half as much? 

Look at the pizza rolls in your freezer or the sugary cereal in your pantry. Do you seriously believe that this food is healthy? Are you confident that it is providing quality building materials for you child’s growing body? Are you satisfied with the synthetic vitamins listed on the nutritional guidelines label? 

Sustainably raised food has been proven to be more nutrient dense than conventionally raised food. Buying sustainable food is easier than you think. There are farmers markets, where the farmers come to your area.  Likewise, buyers clubs and coops will usually deliver to your neighborhood. It’s true that it’s more expensive, but you’re worth it, and so is your family. 

 

References

  1. 1.85 oz bag of chips at $.99 x 8.65 = $8.56
  2. 20 oz bottle of soda at $1.30 x 6.4 = $8.32
  3. www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2012/04/how-america-spends-money-100-years-in-the-life-of-the-family-budget/255475/ 
  4. www.thepeoplehistory.com/1950s.html 
  5. www.bls.gov/opub/uscs/1950.pdf 

Local Food isn’t too Expensive, Conventional Food is too Cheap

Posted in Food for Thought

What is cheap? Think about that for a moment. Cheap is relative.

Is a coffee pot cheap? How about a refrigerator? A refrigerator costs a lot more than a coffee pot, but it can still be cheap. It really depends on what brand you buy or where you buy it. You can spend $10 on a coffee pot, or you can spend $500. $500 is expensive for a coffee pot, but not for a refrigerator.

Take gas as an example – is $2 a gallon cheap? You probably didn’t think so in 2002, when gas was in the $1.50 a gallon range. $2.00 a gallon is cheap when compared to $3.00 a gallon. But it’s expensive when compared to $1.50 a gallon.

How Much Should Food Cost?

In my article, What is Elitist, I explore how inflation affected the food industry differently than the rest of the economy.

When I look at the 1950s prices for food, then adjust them for inflation, you’ll see that something’s not right. Eggs were $.60 a dozen in 1950, adjusted for inflation they should be $5.00 a dozen. Instead, they’re $1.50 a dozen. Milk was $.82 a gallon, it should be $6.85 a gallon. Chicken was $.43 a pound then, it should be $3.60 a pound now. All of these staple items should cost 2-3 times as much as they do.[2]

I also discovered that this price discrepancy only pertains to basic food items such as: meats, eggs, milk, etc. You know, the type of stuff you would buy from a local farmer. Processed food prices have gone up by 1,300% or more. While at the same time, the amount of money the farmers make off this food has gone down.[2]  

Bread was $.15 in 1950, inflation says is should only cost $1.25. Instead is costs $2.00 or more. Soda cost $.07 in 1950. It should only cost $.58. Instead it costs about $.75.[2]  

Is it any wonder so many people think that locally raised food is too expensive? We’ve become accustomed to cheap food. So, let’s explore how our food became so cheap.

Economies of Scale Favor Big Corporations.

When a processing plant butchers 250,000 chickens a day, paying several inspectors is cheap. However, when a small local processor only butchers 600 a day, paying even one inspector becomes expensive. But that’s not the only expense.

FSIS regulations require that every processing plant have a separate office and bathroom for the inspector. They wouldn’t want to soil themselves by using the lowly employee bathroom. This of course, means building two bathrooms, and an extra office. Not a problem when your plant is 30,000+ square feet. But for a local plant that may be 2,000 square feet, that extra 100 square feet is a much bigger cost.

Inspection is not a guarantee, unless you’re a mega processing plant. Small processors may employ one inspector a week, sometimes less. Meanwhile mega processors can easily employ half a dozen per week or more. This gives them priority over the small guys. If the inspector for a small plant calls in sick, the work has to stop. That’s not the case for a mega plant, they’ll just continue on with one less inspector.

Mass production is great for cars, coffee pots etc. because these things are not alive. Warehousing sheet metal in cramped buildings doesn’t hurt anyone. However, when you start viewing animals the same way you view sheet metal, you stop caring about what conditions they live in.

Abusing Animals

Cows aren’t cars. Pigs aren’t iphones.Chickens aren’t bottles of soda. You can’t just force millions of animals into a rigid system like you do a car, or a bottle of soda. Nature doesn’t do that. Can you think of anywhere in nature where thousands of chickens live in a small area with no other animals? I can’t.

But industrial agriculture doesn’t care about how animals live in nature. Conventional farming crams animals into warehouse like buildings where they are fed hormones, steroids, and antibiotics to make them grow fast. Then they are slaughtered quickly before they die.

These buildings can be smelled from a mile away. The poop buildup creates a noxious environment for the animals to live in. When you have 30,000 chickens or 5,000 hogs in a building, keeping them clean is impossible. These buildings require constant ventilation to keep the animals alive. If the ventilation fails for even a short period of time, methane buildup can occur, killing the animals.[12]

Studies have been done that link cruelty to animals with sociopathic tendencies. What could be more abusive that forcing animals to live in their own feces for their entire life. Death is a welcome relief for these animals.

Exploiting Farmers & Food Workers

A conventional farmer in the US makes a small percentage of a dollar spent of the food they raised. Why is that? The answer is simple. Middlemen.

Much of the processed food consumed today goes through as many a five different companies before it reaches the consumer. In order for this to be profitable, the farmer cannot be paid a substantial amount. After all, each one of the middlemen have to make a profit. No one cares if the farmer does. That’s what subsidies are for, right?

Workers at processing plants are also notoriously underpaid. Many processing plants have taken to hiring migrant workers who are more willing to accept low wages.

Workers at processing plants are hired to to a very specific task. Hang birds on hooks, cut the wings off a bird, etc. these tasks require very few moves, but need to be repeated very quickly. Many processing plants butcher up to 140 birds a minute. This breakneck pace causes repetitive stress injuries.[12]

Subsidies Unfairly Promote Big Corporations

The price you pay at the supermarket cash register is not the true cost. Much of it has been subsidized with tax dollars.

Let’s pretend that the government decided to subsidize every car sold in the US to the tune of $5,000 per vehicle. Except Toyota. because reasons. Would it be right to get mad at Toyota because their cars cost more? It’s not Toyota’s fault that the government decided to leave them out.

Grain subsidies have allowed the price of grain to go down over the last 40 years. This in turn has made meat and processed food cheaper. Meanwhile the cost to grow that grain has gone up along with everything else. In August 2016 a bushel of corn cost $2.88.[4] However, in August 1974 a bushel of corn brought $3.32.[3] That’s $16.00 in 2016 dollars.

I’m sorry, what? The price of corn has gone down over five and half times in the last 40 years. Who’s paying for that? Taxpayers and farmers. Grain subsidies come out of tax dollars. Every taxpayer is paying for them whether they want to or not. That means that vegans are paying for subsides to feed cattle and chickens that they’ll never eat.

Farmers are also paying for it. In the 1970s the USDA encouraged the consolidation of farmland. Farmers had to “get big or get out.”[1] In other words, farmers had to grow more crops to make the same amount of money. And it’s worked, farmers grow four times as much corn as they did in 1970.[1]

And while it’s true that economies of scale account for some of the price reduction, the question still remains. Do we really need 12 billion bushels of corn every year?

If you’re Tyson, then yes, you do. According to researchers Tim Wise and Alicia Harvie at Tufts, the lower prices of corn and soy have saved chicken producers $11.3 billion between 1997 and 2005.[6,7]

You might say: ‘Well that’s good for farmers.’ Not if they’re growing for Tyson. Tyson growers don’t buy the feed, or the chicks. They are merely paid to raise the chickens. Tyson alone is reaping the profits of low cost feed.

On the other hand, most local farms use NON-GMO or organic feed. Neither of which has subsidies. In other words, we’re Toyota.

Cheap Fuel & Cheap Pollution

When you truck food thousands of miles, you need cheap fuel. Bananas are cheap for one main reason. Mass transit using cheap fuel.

Currently our conventional farm system relies on mining the earth and oceans to make cheap fertilizer. This fertilizer is used on soil that has long since been depleted of its fertility. Hence the need for fertilizer. This fertilizer is made in chemical plants that pollute the environment.[11]

Farmers routinely over fertilize their fields. They call this insurance.[8] This extra fertilizer cannot be absorbed by the soil. It ends up being washed away by rain or irrigation. The fertilizer contaminated water makes its way to the nearest creek or river, eventually making its way to the mississippi river and out to the gulf of mexico. A dead zone occurs every summer in the Gulf of Mexico when runoff from industrial farming makes its way down the river.[9, 10]

The worst industrial disaster in history was caused by a pesticide plant. In 1984 the Union Carbide company operating in Bhopal india, had a gas leak. Over 500,000 people were exposed to Methyl Isocyanate. The death toll was at least 3,787, but more deaths are claimed.[5]

If more farming converted to Organic and subsequently we reduced our use of petroleum based fertilizers and pesticides we’d see petroleum prices drop. We would also see our environment improve and reduce associated costs.

Are You a Cheap Food Family?

If the only food you buy for your family is the cheapest food available, what message does that send? Does eating cheap food make your kids feel special? Or does it send the message: “you’re not worth buying good food for.”

Our children learn from our example. You can preach and lecture all you want, but your actions speak louder than your words. If you talk about eating healthy, but continue to buy cheap food, your children will see through your hollow words.

Every time your child eats, their body uses that food as building material. Is that building material quality? Or is it like building a house using rotted wood. You may have gotten a good deal on it. But it’ll cost you later.

Look at the pizza rolls in your freezer or the sugary cereal in your pantry. Do you seriously believe that this food is healthy? Are you confident that it is providing quality building materials for you child’s growing body? Are you satisfied with the synthetic vitamins listed on the nutritional guidelines label?

Local pasture raised meat and eggs are an excellent example of nutrient dense food. Grass finished beef has up to six times the Omega 3 fatty acids as feedlot beef. Grass finished beef has over four times the Vitamin E as feedlot beef.[13] The list goes on and on. But it boils down to one thing. You get more nutrients for your money with local pasture raised food.

 

References

  1. www.motherjones.com/food/2012/02/america-food-spending-less/
  2. www.thepeoplehistory.com/1950s.html
  3. www.iowaagriculture.gov/agMarketing/historic/1974GrainPrices.asp
  4. www.iowaagriculture.gov/agMarketing/historic/2016GrainPrices.asp
  5. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Union_Carbide
  6. grist.org/article/2010-03-25-corn-ethanol-meat-hfcs/
  7. grist.files.wordpress.com/2009/02/pb09-01sweeteningpotfeb09.pdf
  8. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, 2016
  9. www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2011/20110804_deadzone.html
  10. www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/aug/01/meat-industry-dead-zone-gulf-of-mexico-environment-pollution
  11. grist.org/article/miracle-grow/
  12. Fast Food Nation, Eric Schlosser, 2012
  13. www.eatwild.com

Quality Counts

Posted in Food for Thought

One of the most common complaints about organic and local pasture raised food is that it costs more. There are several reasons for this. The number one reason is quality. Food from local farms are more nutrient dense pound for pound than food from the supermarket. Industrial agriculture’s main focus is how to grow more and more food cheaper. You cannot have quality when your primary concern is how to make a product cheaper.

When someone buys a Mercedes, they aren’t looking at the price first. They’re looking at the interior, the high-end leather, the real wood veneer. They’re looking at reliability. They want to know that this car will not break down on the side of the road, even years from now. They are willing to pay more for this piece of mind.

When you grow crops in soil that is deficient in nutrients, those crops are going to be deficient in nutrients. Chemical fertilizer contains Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. There may be a few other minerals thrown in depending on the brand you buy. What they don’t contain is the hundreds or thousands of trace minerals and nutrients present in living healthy soil.

Eating nutrient deficient food is like building a house using rotted wood. Sure you may have gotten a good deal on it. But it’ll cost you later. If you’ve ever built a house, you’ve probably found that certain contractors are always busy. They’re booked up months in advance. These contractors are not the cheapest. In fact, they are usually among the most expensive. That’s because they offer quality. Quality costs money.

Every time your child eats, their body uses that food as building material. Is that building material quality? Or is it the cheap rotted wood that cost half as much? Look at the pizza rolls in your freezer or the sugary cereal in your pantry. Do you seriously believe that this food is healthy? Are you confident that it is providing quality building materials for you child’s growing body?

The difference in nutrient density can be seen most prominently in pasture-raised meat and eggs. Grass-finished beef has up to six times the Omega 3 fatty acids as feedlot beef. This is the one modern diets are lacking. Grass finished beef also has over four times the Vitamin E as feedlot beef. This difference in nutrient density is similar across all the nutrients.

Local pasture raised food may be more expensive, but you get more for your money. I’m sure you’ve seen the commercial for Total cereal. You’d have to eat six bowls of one cereal or ten bowls of another cereal to get the same amount of vitamins as one bowl of Total. The same goes for pasture raised meats and compost-grown vegetables. Much of the food you buy at local farms is two or three times as nutrient dense as their supermarket counterparts.

This problem of nutrient deficiency in supermarket food comes from the industrial mindset. Industrial agriculture focuses on grown more and more of less types of food. There are more than 7,500 known varieties of apples. Yet at any given supermarket you’ll find maybe 10 different varieties.

Over the course of human history, we’ve eaten over 80,000 different plants. More than 3,000 of those we eat consistently. However, our industrial agriculture system now grows only 8 crops to make 75% of the world’s food. Why is that? Because it’s cheaper to grow these 8 plants in giant monocultures using cheap fossil fuels. Economies of scale favor only having to process 8 different foods. These 8 foods are turned into hundreds of different food additives used to make all of the processed crap you find in a supermarket.

My dad used to joke that mexican food is just the same 6 or 7 ingredients rearranged to make each dish. Well, most of what you find in the supermarket is simply different arrangements of the same 8 basic foods.

The US has the highest rates of obesity and obesity-related conditions than any other country. Why? Because we eat more processed food than any other country. If food companies made processed food with nutritionally dense and sustainably grown grains and produce, it would cost twice as much. Ezekial bread costs $4.00 a loaf, not because they’re selling to elites, but because that’s what it costs to source quality ingredients.

The main reason corn syrup is cheaper than sugar is because corn is grown, transported, and processed using cheap fossil fuels. You cannot have quality when your primary concern is how to make a product cheaper.

I’ve seen this quality issue in the essential oil business. Health food stores have been selling cheap essential oils for years. I’ve heard many people say they’ve tried essential oils, and they didn’t work. I then have to explain to them that there’s a big difference between cheap oils and quality oils. There are several reasons for this. Cheap oils are frequently extracted using high heat and solvents to get as much oil as possible. This adulterates the oil, making it less effective and sometimes dangerous.

Some oils are synthesized in a laboratory. Wintergreen oil is a good example. Cheap wintergreen oil comes from a lab, not from the tree. Because of this, cheap wintergreen oil is poisonous. If you ingest it, you will likely die. We’ve been using essential oils from Young Living for over 15 years. These oils cost more because their quality is second to none. Young Living’s wintergreen is genuine oil from the wintergreen tree. It is not poisonous. I know, because I have ingested full capsules of Young Living’s wintergreen and not even gotten sick.

Lavender is another good example. There are several types of lavender plants. Genuine Lavandula Angustifolia can soothe burns and help them heal. Cheap lavender oil from the health food store is frequently made from Lavandin, a lavender hybrid. Lavandin is high in canfor which will make burns worse. A higher standard of excellence makes a difference. Remember, quality counts.

What is Elitist?

Posted in Food for Thought

One of the biggest criticisms of local and organic food is that it’s too expensive. That it’s only for elites who have a lot of money. And it’s true that local and organic food is more expensive. But that’s not because this food has increased in price. Conventional food has gone down in price.

1950 Prices vs 2010 Prices

In the 60 years after 1950 the dollar went down in value 850%. This is called inflation. The average income went up by 1200%. That means that a person making $40,000 in 2010 could support 12 families in 1950. The $2.75 your spent on one gallon of gas in 2010 could have filled your tank in 1950. You could have sent 14 letters in 1950 using only one 2010 postage stamp. That’s a 1,400% increase.3

The one sector that did not go up significantly was food. Staple items such as milk, eggs, hamburger, chicken, steak, etc went up by only 300% – 400%. Instead of getting a cart full of milk, you only get an extra two gallons. The same for eggs. You only get 3 dozen eggs for the price of one dozen in 2010.3

When I adjust the 1950s prices for inflation, you’ll see that something’s not right. Eggs were $.60 a dozen in 1950, adjusted for inflation they should be $5.00 a dozen. Instead, they’re $1.50 a dozen. Milk was $.82 a gallon, it should be $6.85 a gallon. Chicken was $.43 a pound then, it should be $3.60 a pound now. All of these staple items should cost 2-3 times as much as they do.3

This price discrepancy only pertains to basic food items such as: meats, eggs, milk, etc. You know, the type of stuff you would buy from a local farmer. Processed foods, however, they’re more expensive than ever. Their prices increased by 1,300% or more. While at the same time, the amount of money the farmers make off this food went down.3

Bread was $.15 in 1950, inflation says is should only cost $1.25. Instead is costs $2.00 or more. Soda cost $.07 in 1950. It should only cost $.58. Instead it costs about $.75.3

My question to you is, why? Why is processed food MORE expensive when the basic ingredients are LESS expensive? Wheat is cheaper than it’s ever been in history, yet bread is more expensive than it’s ever been. Sugar and high fructose corn syrup is cheaper, but soda is more expensive. This means higher profits for the food companies. Not for the farmers.

The money being made in the food industry is being made in processing. A bushel of corn yields about 33lbs of High Fructose Corn Syrup. That 33 lbs sells for about $13. Sounds cheap, right? Well the bushel of corn cost only $3.00.2 That’s means that the processing company is selling the corn syrup for over four times what they paid for the corn. Not that they’re making a ton of money. It’s very energy intensive to process corn syrup.

You Spend How Much?

Isn’t it elitist to pay $100 a month for television, another $100+ for cell phones, and at least $50 for internet? That’s $250 a month for things that no one had 50 years ago. They did just fine without them. This is all a form of elitism. There are well over a billion people that don’t have these luxuries. In fact, there are many parts of the would that do not even have electricity.

“But my son needs his cell phone. How will I know where he is if I can’t call him?” says every parent nowadays. You don’t want them to get kidnapped or worse.

But what about kids in the 70s, 80s or 90s? What did they do? Did they all get kidnapped or lost? No, they were responsible enough to figure it out. They knew when and where to meet their parents. And if they didn’t, they found a phone and called their parents. They knew to be home by dark. Not because they’re parents called them, but because they remembered on their own. It seems to me, kids in the 70s were more responsible than kids are now.

Having a cell phone means that your kids don’t have to worry about remembering where to meet or when. They’ll just call mommy. Or better yet, mommy will track them down using the GPS.

Every time I visit a relative with teenagers, I hear about how one of the kids stayed out late and didn’t call. Sometimes they don’t even answer their phone. What could be easier than pulling you phone out of your pocket and calling mom? Kids in as late as the 90s didn’t have that luxury. They had to go in search of a phone.

Having that constraint meant that kids had to think ahead. They had to plan. How often do you ask yourself, “What were those kids thinking?”. Answer: they weren’t. They don’t have to think ahead. They can get a hold of mom and dad anytime they want. That breeds a sort of laziness. Being lazy is a luxury that only elite countries can afford.

Luxury is Elitist

I would argue that being overweight is elitist. Being overweight is a luxury that many millions of people around the world do not have. Children in many parts of the world are starving. They would do anything to fill their stomachs. Meanwhile Americans complain if the price of milk or eggs go up by 10 cents. That’s elitist.

Likewise, being lazy is a luxury. If you’re a poor farmer in a developing country, being lazy means you don’t eat. If you’re lazy in the United States, you can always get food stamps. “But isn’t that a good thing?” you may ask. I don’t think so. The US has the highest rates of obesity and obesity related conditions than any other country. Why? Because we eat more cheap processed food than any other country.

I call this food cheap because it is. If a food company made it’s processed food with pasture raised meats and sustainably grown grains and produce, it would cost twice as much. Ezekial bread costs $5.00 a loaf, not because they’re selling to elites, but because that’s what it costs to source decent ingredients.

Don’t Blame the Farmers

Every time someone complains about the cost of local food, they want to blame the farmers. Why is it always the farmer’s fault? We can’t help it that big food companies have developed a system where they can grow food cheaper using abusive practices, cheap fertilizer, and underpaid farmers and food workers.

Why is no one upset with the food companies who make billions off the food you eat? Conventional farmers make pennies compared to what these companies make. Yet somehow these companies have managed to shift the blame away from themselves and onto the farmers.

Most of the shoppers at a farmer’s market would be offended if a farmer showed up driving a BMW. Meanwhile, they’re perfectly happy that they’re doctor, lawyer, or accountant drives a BMW. Why the double standard? Isn’t the farmer who grows the food you eat just as important as your doctor? I’d argue he’s more important. You eat his food everyday, you only see your doctor a few times a year.

You can argue that it’s not fair that poor people are stuck eating cheap unhealthy food while people with money can afford healthy food. I agree, it’s not fair. But again, that’s not our fault. It’s not our fault that the food industry has built a system based on food that’s unhealthy. It’s not our fault that the government subsidies this system.

Efficient isn’t Always Better

Local food is not made artificially cheap by government subsidies and cheap fossil fuels. Sustainable farms cannot benefit from economies of scale. At least not the way conventional farming does. Economy of scale dictates that you raise animals in abusive conditions. That you grow massive amounts of one crop using fertilizers that pollute the environment. That you pay your farmers very little.

Sustainable farming is inefficient compared to conventional farming. One conventional farmer can grow 100,000+ chickens at a time. A sustainable farmer cannot even come close to that. Maybe 2,000 pastured chickens at a time. Sustainable farming requires more labor per animal. But is that a bad thing?

To some people, it is. They claim that we can’t feed the world unless farmers can grow thousands of bushels of corn by themselves. Efficiency is the only consideration. There’s no consideration for pollution, erosion, or the fact that if we run out of cheap energy, this system collapses. Nope, only efficiency.

Our culture is obsessed with efficiency. High efficiency appliances, fuel efficient cars, computers have made office work more efficient. But efficiency isn’t always a good thing. Factories become more efficient, then lay off workers. Farms have become more efficient, at the expense of the animals and the environment. 20,000 birds in one house is very efficient, but it’s not very humane. 30,000 corn plants to an acre is efficient. But it requires so much fertilizer that runoff creates a dead zone in the gulf of Mexico the size of New Jersey.1

So the next time you’re comparing prices between local food and supermarket fare, remember. We’re charging what the food actually costs. That’s not elitist. Elitist is the attitude that we should get our food cheap at the expense of the farmers, the environment, and our own health. Does your food heal, or destroy?

 

  1. The Omnivore’s Dilemma, Michael Pollan, 2006
  2. www.iowaagriculture.gov/agMarketing/historic/2016GrainPrices.asp
  3. http://www.thepeoplehistory.com/1950s.html

Farmers Driving BMWs

Posted in Food for Thought

I was watching a talk by Joel Salatin recently and he brought up this topic. It inspired me to take the subject and expand upon it.

I have a question to ask you.

What would you do if your farmer showed up at the next Farmer’s Market driving a BMW?

Would you be offended?:  “He’s gouging us!”

Would you be annoyed?:  “He’s making as much money as my lawyer.”

Now ask yourself this: Would you be offended if your doctor showed up in a BMW?

Probably not.

Why?

Because you want to know that your doctor is successful. Driving a BMW means that your doctor is successful. Being successful means that he’s smart and knows what he’s doing.

So why are some people against farmers making the same kind of living as their doctor?

What’s the difference between your doctor and your farmer? I would argue that your farmer is the more important one. Your farmers grows the food you eat everyday, your doctor only treats you when you get sick. Get sick after eating unhealthy food. You can live without a doctor, you can’t live without a farmer.

Why should your farmer have to make so much less than your doctor?

For the last 75 years, most of the major crops in the united states have been subsidized. This is because farmers cannot make a living wage selling their products at commodity prices. This has created a public that is used to cheap food. They don’t understand that it costs much more to raise this food than what they’re paying in the grocery store.

Smart & skilled people don’t work for minimum wage.

Farmers should be able to make a decent living. If they can’t, then unskilled people will be the only ones growing our food. We will have to worry about contaminants and heavy metals. E-coli in our spinach. Millions of pounds of contaminated meat being recalled. Not to mention all the food that comes from other countries.

Not all countries have strict laws on quality control of food items. You may remember the scare about arsenic in chinese apple juice. There was mercury in farm raised fish. Lead paints in children’s toys, dog chews, etc. Our government cannot check every container that comes through a port. In fact, they check less than 2%.

Underpaid people don’t care about quality, they have other things to worry about. Like how to feed their own family. They don’t care if your spinach ends up with E-Coli on it. They just collect their meager paycheck and go home.

This is the situation we have with industrial factory farming. The big corporations force everything into a system, then hire the cheapest people they can find to do the jobs. Much like McDonald’s. McDonald’s doesn’t have to pay more than minimum wage, because anyone can do each job.

Americans suffer from what I call the Walmart Mentality. They want everything: cheaper, cheaper, cheaper. And they don’t care about quality anymore. If it breaks, they’ll just buy another one. It’s cheap.

Let’s take a chicken farmer for example. Many of them make less than the average office worker. There are many chicken farmers that may have 20,000, 40,000, or even 60,000 chickens on their farm at a time, but the salary they earn isn’t even enough to quit their day job.

Is it really that important that you can buy 50 chicken nuggets for $15?

Quality Costs More

You may not like that Roto-Rooter charges twice as much as Dave’s Plumbing, but you can be sure that Roto-Rooter won’t put a hole in your pipes or track mud through your living room. That’s the cost of quality.

The same can be said about food. When local farmers charge twice as much as the supermarket, it’s not because we’re trying to gouge our customers. This is how much it really costs to raise high quality meats. It’s very labor intensive to make sure every chicken has fresh clean pasture everyday. It costs more to buy NON-GMO feed by the ton, instead of by the trainload. We don’t want the cheapest feed possible. We want quality feed.

Now I ask you, who should be driving the BMW?