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  • Writer's pictureCliff McConville

What's wrong with cheap food?

Updated: Mar 1, 2019

One of the most frequent comments we get in the farm store, usually from visitors passing by and not familiar with our farming practices, is why our eggs, milk, beef, etc. costs more than what they are used to paying at their local WalMart. Of course we always tell them you get what you pay for, but I don't think most people are aware of the TRUE COST of America's cheap food policy of the last 50 years. So I think this would be an excellent topic to explore on this blog, as there are so many different dimensions to this problem that could potentially impact our survival as a species on the planet Earth.

At a high level, our cheap food policy has led to the loss of millions of American family farms (and farmers), depopulation and decay of many rural communities, rapid topsoil erosion and nutrient loss, environmental degradation and pollution of our waterways and aquifers with agricultural chemicals, and has even contributed greatly to global climate change. Not to mention the rise in chronic diseases that can be traced back to the abundance of chemicals and lack of nutrients available in today's factory farmed, industrially processed foods. And inhumane treatment of farm animals confined to small pens and cages for their entire lives. We will explore many of these issues over the coming weeks.

But first I would like to revisit a revealing statistic that I came across several years ago. Back in 1960, just before America's cheap food policy was introduced, the average American family spent 17.5% of their disposable income on food, and total spending on healthcare was 5.0% of the US gross domestic product (GDP). Fast forward to 2017 data, the average American family spends just 9.6% of their disposable income on food, while our healthcare expenditures now consume 17.9% of GDP. Food costs have dropped in half, while healthcare expenditures have skyrocketed. Correlation does not equal causation, but we will explore some data that shows how cheap food is impacting our health. Stay tuned for the next post in this series later this week.

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