The True Cost of Cheap Food

Everyone loves a deal. If I know that groceries are cheaper at Save On Foods than Safeway, I’ll go to Save On Foods as it’s all the same thing anyways.  There comes a time though when food is so cheap that you start to wonder. A colleague came to work yesterday excited about the latest deal at McDonalds: Buy a coffee, get a muffin for a penny – a penny!!! The coin that costs more to produce than it’s own value! It doesn’t take a genius to get that there’s no way the muffin could be worth a penny. The muffin is a combination of a good 15 or so ingredients that either start in a field or a lab – all of which require labour to grow, harvest, transport, examine, package, combine, bake, etc…  The costs of that 1 cent muffin are far greater

Me at an indoor farmers market. Mmmm carrots!
Me at an indoor farmers market. Mmmm carrots!

than what they’re sold for… So what happened along that chain of events that enabled such a low price?

I found an article that sums it up really well, “The True Cost of Cheap Food,” by Timothy A. Wise.

After reading it you’re likely to think, “So what do we do?” Well, in this case there are actually tonnes of alternatives that make a world of a difference for farmers and for you.

Start with setting a goal of learning more about where your food comes from. Most grocery stores don’t even know the origin of their products. If they do list a country of origin for fruits or veggies, it’s often “USA/Mexico” – a pretty safe guess.  And good luck guessing where all ingredients in your canned soup or mac n’ cheese came from…

One of the best ways to learn about your food is to shop at farmers markets. Meet the person who literally sustains your life. Ask them questions. Understand that growing your food is their livelihood. They ask a price that is fair for a day of hard, early morning, physical labour. Suddenly when you’re making a salad with delicate butter lettuce picked fresh the day before, you appreciate what went into it a whole lot more and feel safer and healthier knowing who produced this thing that gives you life.

Stay tuned for more interesting info on local food. It’s going to be a great summer season and I can’t wait to share more about the farm to fork process with you! Happy Eating! 🙂

5 Responses to The True Cost of Cheap Food

  1. An issue in the interior of British Columbia now is that apple growers are only paid an average of 12 cents a pound, while they cost maybe $1.69 in the grocery store. Orchardists are going broke, no kidding!

  2. Hey Alaina, thanks for the link to the BC Assn of Farmers’ Markets… I’ve done my research this year and I’m going to be buying from farmers’ markets every week this summer! I have a number of reasons for wanting to buy local, but it has always seemed confusing and overwhelming. Now it’s easy – the Coquitlam farmer’s market opens next weekend and I’m going!!!! 😀
    I’m looking forward to reading more of your thoughts and tips on buying local food this summer, keep up the good work, girl! xo

    PS, the picture of you is adorable, as always.

  3. An issue in the interior of British Columbia now is that apple growers are only paid an average of 12 cents a pound, while they cost maybe $1.69 in the grocery store. Orchardists are going broke, no kidding!

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