Gourmet has an interesting piece on the cost debate brought up in recent sessions at the Cooking for Solutions Sustainable Foods Institute in Monterey, CA. Apparently, we pay too much for food, according to certain experts (Whole Foods global produce buyer, Karen Christensen, being one of them).
According to these experts, we pay half as much for food as a percentage of our total income as we did 50 years ago. Surely, this is to be expected what with the industrialization and mass production of food having mushroomed since, well, about 50 years ago. And the problem, say these experts, is that making food cheaper doesn’t benefit those who need it most anyway because such people live in what has come to be known as food deserts. In turn, spending more on sustainable, local foods only serves to benefit the wealthy communities in which and for which these foods are produced. When it comes to food buying decisions, sure, if you can afford it, pay more for sustainably grown local foods. But should we really just abandon those who struggle to find and pay for healthy foods?
Here’s an idea: How about some form of credit system for big food companies–something that mirrors a carbon credit, but that compensates for the damage they do to bring the overall cost of food down (which makes it more difficult for small, sustainable food producers to serve their communities, and makes it easier for poorer folk to opt for cheap, unhealthy foods). The credits could go to subsidizing bringing better, cheaper foods to the communities that need it most.
What do you think about the cost of food? Do we pay enough as it is or could we stand to pay more to help encourage better food production and distribution practices? Post a comment to let us know what you think.