The Cost of Real Food
We have supported Certified Organic (local whenever possible) for the last decade. Over and over we have heard people say “Your food bill must a fortune!” or “most people can’t afford organic”. But when we shop at an organic grocery store or see people buying organic at the market, it seems to be mostly common middle income folk not rich people. So how are we all affording it on regular incomes?
Canadians actually have among the lowest food costs in the world. We consistently rank among the top 5 countries for cheapest food. We hit “Food Freedom Day” in early February which means we use 11 months worth of income to spend on other things. It seems great to have an abundance of food for such little money but what about the hidden costs? What are the downsides to paying so little for our food?
When we as consumers demand cheap food, we get just that... CHEAP FOOD! Food that is grown for yield rather than for flavor or nutrition. Food that is grown in a confined feeding operation rather than on the land where the natural nutrient and water cycles can take place . Food that is grown with harmful substances that pass onto us, our children and into the eco-system through polluted air and water streams. It is food that harms rather than food that heals and we pay for it through environmental damage, health costs and other taxes/subsidies.
During our experience working on and visiting various farms, we noticed a common issue. These full time farmers were poor and living at the poverty level. The only ones that had any money were those who funded the farm from an outside job. So why is it that a farmer, who has one of the toughest and most important jobs in the world, can’t earn a decent living?
If we want quality food, we have to start paying farmers a decent income. The alternative is that farmer numbers continue to drop and large farms continue to get bigger and more industrialized. We want to be part of the solution. We want to grow nutrient dense food for the educated consumer that knows the difference between organic soil improving agriculture vs. conventional/non-gmo agriculture.
Quality food generally takes a lot more labour and higher feed costs to grow, therefore product prices are higher. Certified Organic feed is up to twice the cost of conventional/non-gmo feed but we feel it is worth it. Some people seem think that because our organic products are priced significantly higher than conventional growers that we are somehow making a fortune from it. This is completely untrue and in most cases our profit margin is much lower than conventional growers(ex. feed cost is almost double but we are not charging anywhere near double for products). It is unacceptable to haggle farmers over cost when one does not understand what goes into making the product. We won’t apologize for charging a fair price for our products. We deserve to make a dollar per dozen after raising (0-5months before a single egg), pasturing, moving, feeding, collecting, washing and packaging the eggs.