>> Sunday, September 6, 2009
Sometimes on the weekends, I ramble about thoughts I've been having that week. Feel free to comment, add to my thoughts, or disagree with anything I say. But please remember that I don't like being called an idiot, even if I'm being one. So keep your comments respectful.
I have a bone to pick with Time Magazine. In their August 31st issue, they had an article called "The Real Cost of Cheap Food." Overall, it was a great article - kind of a watered down version of the documentary Food, Inc, and it shows how mainstream the food debate is getting.
But on the third page of the article, there was an illustration that drove me batty! The left column of the illustration was titled "Organic" with a picture of common items purchased at a grocery store and a sample receipt totaling $33.32. The same products, though conventionally grown, were listed in the right hand column with a receipt totaling $15.88. With these sample numbers, the article goes on to explain, the annual cost of buying the organic products would be $1,732 while the annual cost of the conventional products would be $825. "Is sustainability worth an extra $900 a year?" the caption queries.
Picture me reading this article a year ago before I greened my grocery bill: "What??!! The cost of organics is twice as much as conventional products???!!! Who can afford that? Not me!"
Except, wait a second. I have greened my grocery bill, and I now know that going organic isn't that big of a cost differential. So when I read this article earlier this week, my reaction was, "What grocery store are they shopping at?!"
It's no wonder that people assume they can't afford to go green when even an article that supports organic agriculture and ag reform claims that organic foods are so expensive.
If they had included my grocery receipt with the same items in this article, it would have looked like this:
- homemade bread containing all organic ingredients: $1.80
- 1 pound of locally produced, grass fed ground beef: $5.99*
- 3 organic apples: $1.80
- organic grape tomatoes: $3.99
- a dozen locally produced, free range eggs: $3
- 1 gallon of organic whole milk: $4.99
Annual cost: $1,121
*The article includes chicken breasts instead of ground beef. I've never bought chicken, so I'm not sure how much it costs.
And that doesn't even include the fact that since I'm a vegetarian, we barely ever buy beef - beans are soooo much cheaper. Or that I wouldn't buy those expensive grape tomatoes that come in a plastic pint case because the regular or roma tomatoes are much cheaper and float around in the nude.
The article proposes that if we "factor in crop subsidies, ecological damage and what we pay in health-care bills after our fatty, sugary diet makes us sick, conventionally produced food looks a lot pricier." Great point. The cheap cost of conventional food leaves out a lot of factors.
But please, Time Magazine, don't scare people away from organics with such ridiculously high prices.
(And since I'm on a rant, I was also annoyed by the sentence "no one goes to farmers' markets for bargains" and the fact that the author didn't even touch on the issues with farm labor.)
Did you read the article? What did you think?
Photo by Kables