Alicia's Food For Thought


“High Price of Cheap Food”
September 19, 2009, 11:35 PM
Filed under: Media Bites

Hi readers!

I’m trying to get back into the groove of updating my blog at least twice a week. School has been pretty hectic lately but a ton of fun. I’m taking a lot of interesting classes this semester so I’m looking forward to learning a lot.

My internship at Food Network has been amazing! I could not have asked for a better internship that fits everything I love in life–I even sat next to Bob Tuschman today during a meeting! And every Friday I sit on a meeting with Susie Folgelson (Only you hardcore Food Network fans know who I’m talking about…).

Anyways, one of my favorite classes is my Nutrition & Health class in the Food Studies/Nutrition department at Steinhardt. On Tuesday, we read an amazing article from the Times called Getting Real about the High Price of Cheap Food”. You can find the article online here. What I like most about the article is how it discusses about how Americans are so unwilling to change their habits and if we keep going down the road we are going on, the scenario from Wall-E is actually not that far-fetched. Also, I suggest you look at the “Top 10” lists that they included in the article because it is very eye opening and disturbing at the same time.

Here is a brief portion of the article that I think is really important:

“And perhaps worst of all, our food is increasingly bad for us, even dangerous. A series of recalls involving contaminated foods this year — including an outbreak of salmonella from tainted peanuts that killed at least eight people and sickened 600 — has consumers rightly worried about the safety of their meals. A food system — from seed to 7‑Eleven — that generates cheap, filling food at the literal expense of healthier produce is also a principal cause of America’s obesity epidemic. At a time when the nation is close to a civil war over health-care reform, obesity adds $147 billion a year to our doctor bills. “The way we farm now is destructive of the soil, the environment and us,” says Doug Gurian-Sherman, a senior scientist with the food and environment program at the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)…

But we don’t have the luxury of philosophizing about food. With the exhaustion of the soil, the impact of global warming and the inevitably rising price of oil — which will affect everything from fertilizer to supermarket electricity bills — our industrial style of food production will end sooner or later. As the developing world grows richer, hundreds of millions of people will want to shift to the same calorie-heavy, protein-rich diet that has made Americans so unhealthy — demand for meat and poultry worldwide is set to rise 25% by 2015 — but the earth can no longer deliver. Unless Americans radically rethink the way they grow and consume food, they face a future of eroded farmland, hollowed-out countryside, scarier germs, higher health costs — and bland taste. Sustainable food has an élitist reputation, but each of us depends on the soil, animals and plants — and as every farmer knows, if you don’t take care of your land, it can’t take care of you.”

I think this article creates a great conversation starter that we all need to have with ourselves and with others. It brings up a good point about how unwilling Americans are to recognize the fact that the world is not at our disposal and how unaware we are of what goes into the food we passively consume. We got to become more conscious of the fact that what we eat has a profound effect on not only our bodies, but also the world. This might come off as dramatic, but really, think about how much corn product you consume in a day, and how much locally grown food you eat in a week. Big difference right? We shouldn’t be overly concerned about the price of our food anymore, instead we should think about the other external costs that are the byproducts of eating so unhealthily/cheaply.

However, I don’t want you guys to go around being food snobs in the grocery stores and lecturing others to eat the high priced organic produce… let’s face it, even if what you’re saying is correct, no one wants to be told what to do. I highly encourage you to do some of your own research about Food Politics and how closely related food is related to people’s economic status. Some people can not afford to eat the higher quality food–I don’t think anyone is looking to the Green Market for a bargain on their produce. I’m no business (Stern) major, but the people who can afford to eat the higher priced products should buy them and create the demand for a change to happen. The more people purchase locally grown, organic, nutritious food, the more likely the price will be driven down with the increase in supply.

I can’t make this change overnight, this is a new lifestyle that is going to take me a lot of time to become accustomed to. This is my game plan: I’m going to pick a produce that I would most likely buy the cheaper (and not organic) version of and purchase its organic counterpart. (i.e. bananas). Next step, I am going to purchase the local version of a vegetable instead of buying the bulk supplier version (lettuce?). Next, I will make a serious effort to eat out to places that support local farmers and cooks with organic products.

Sure, this is going to put a strain on my modest student budget, however, I really think this is a major problem in the US and we should all try to change our bad habits that is causing our world to deteriorate.

http://www.eatlocalchallenge.com/
Click here to learn more about the Eat Local Challenge!

Leave me a comment and tell me what you think about the article.

Thanks for reading!

Alicia Kim
Food For Thought Resident Assistant
alicia.foodforthought@gmail.com

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