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What price do we pay for ‘cheap’ food

A number of reports say that food as a percentage of income is as cheap now as it has ever been. We live in a time of plenty and can buy just about any food nearly all year round from all over the world. Is this ‘cheap’ food due to an open market economy or subsidies?  And what is the real price of cheap food?

The European Union’s policy for the last 20 years has been to reduce food prices by increasing production and the economies of scale.  Big farms, big market, big shops and big subsidies.

Surely the subsidised for cheap food come from our taxes? Perhaps post Brexit we should be given the choice to pay less tax and use the money to buy better food. We could even switch from the big shops to buy local food that is often cheaper, fresher, encourages more local production and helps build the local economy?

More factory farming?

More factory farming?

Many say the hidden costs associated with the production of food should be factored into the equation.  If so the real price would be much closer to that of organic.  There is a surprisingly long list of these hidden social and environmental costs which have a monetary value, including, the middle men margins, the impact of greenhouse gas emissions from forests cleared to grow animal feed; costs associated with cleaning up the pollution from the nitrates and pesticides used to grow crops and even deaths, due to antibiotic resistance plus more obvious economic impacts such as the disappearance of the small family farms creating lots of rural jobs.

Cheap food has also been aided by some rather dodgy practices all hidden by a food industry that disconnects us from where our food comes from. Examples include; some apples get stored for a year before consumption using 1-methylcyclopropene, or salty water injected in to pork and chicken to increase weight.

The BigBarn local food map

The BigBarn local food map

If we carry on the way we are disconnection will mean even more cost reducing tactics like replacing beef with horse, and the price we pay for cheap food is bound to increase.

To combat this please use our local food map to reconnect with your local food producers and have your say. The majority of us voted ‘out’ of Europe, let’s use this as the first step to real food at real prices. We will probably end up being more healthy, saving money and have a better more sustainable food industry!

To read our blog on ‘Brexit the chance to fix our Food Industry’ please click here. Or please feedback below.

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