I remember a conversation this past semester with a fellow seminary student where I made the claim that cheap food wasn’t really cheap. We pay the price in other ways and other places. The inevitable question came, “Who’s paying the price?” At the time I hadn’t prepared my Michael Pollan stump speech on the evils of cheap food, but I said something about farmers and our health…yadda yadda. Well, I think it’s a worthwhile endeavor to do justice to my friends question. Kevin, if you’re out there, we’re going to get to the bottom of who pays the price for cheap food.
At a time when there is a global food crisis because prices are soaring and some have said this is the end of cheap food, why talk about cheap food. Well, I’m not convinced “cheap food” is a thing of the past because in reality nothing has changed. Our food system is still the same. The cost of food right now is being effected by a number of things including, oil prices, ethanol and market prices of certain commodities. This doesn’t mean cheap food is over… only that the cheapest food can currently be in our food system is more than we’re used to.
So, we’re going to find out what it really costs us to keep prices at the grocery store so low. We pay the price in terms of the environment, our health, and fair wages for workers. There may be a few more other ways that we pick up along the way so jump in the commons and tell us why you think cheap food is really expensive.