04 May 2006

What food REALLY costs us

Shnykies! I bought organic milk today for $6/ gallon from a local farmer. The organic eggs were $2.50. The organic butter was $3.25/half-pound.
Wheat berries to be ground are more expensive than the pre-ground whole wheat. Expeller pressed oils are far more pricey than Wesson. Whole wheat pastas are twice as much as the enriched flour kind and we haven't even been able to approach organic meats! I don't think our food budget will be able to take organic eating!

We need to put in a garden. And get a cow, I guess. But somehow I don't think there's enough grass in the backyard of the parsonage to support a milk cow.

I'm amazed at how much everything costs to eat well and healthily. But the more I think about it, the more I am outraged at the lack of quality food available to Americans today.

I was listening to Fresh Air on NPR the other day. Terry Gross was interviewing Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. Pollan was speaking about the challenge facing low income families when it comes to eating well. The average family can walk into a grocery store and spend a couple of bucks on fruits and vegetables that will provide them with high nutrients, but very few calories. If they walk to the center of the store, they will find tons of processed junk for the same amount of money that will provide them with far more calories. And when you're trying to feed yourself on few resources, caloric value is a major concern.

HERE'S THE KICKER -- the reason all of those junky foods are so inexpensive is because our government subsidizes the products used to make all those extra calories. High fructose corn syrup is something that you and I support with our tax dollars. Fresh zucchini is not!
I guess I should have been aware of all this, but honestly, it's never occurred to me that the American people are bankrolling our own diseases. I mean, I knew we (myself especially included) are making some pretty poor choices, but I guess I didn't realize that my dollars are making it harder for you to make good choices and your dollars are making it harder for me to feed my family home-grown foods.

And I know that farming is an important and beneficial way of life. I grew up in a farming community and the family farm is the fabric of that wonderful little town and its environs, but I have to wonder, what kind of disservice are we doing to our fellow beings and our own families by creating an artificial demand and perpetuating systems of poor nutrition? Our myriad crises that are going to cause a breakdown in *insert government system here* by *insert year here* couldn't help but be significantly improved by national upgrades in nutrition! The real cost of our cheap food is a national health crisis that will end up "costing" us far more in the future!

It really ticks me off, but I'm not sure what to do about it. I think part of the answer for our family will come in self-sufficience, but I don't think that's the answer for everyone. And where is my role as a Christian in this? My faith compels me to consider and act on behalf of the poor. But where are the answers?

As I ponder, I guess I'll pay $6 for a gallon of milk. I guess I just wish others had the same options that I do.

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