Last month, I introduced my 7 year-old daughter to World Market stores where she spent an hour in wonder looking at treasures from ‘all over the world.’ While her younger sister wanted to spend her money in the exotic food aisles, she ooh-ed and ahh-ed over the trinkets made in China and Thailand. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that most of the trinkets sold in stores here are made in China and Thailand. Nonetheless, we made off with our $14 of loot from money she had earned.
Last week, we went into a small local business and she wandered over to the bag and toy section. She gasped at the $125 price tag for a school bag. “What?!?! Why is this so expensive? It’s not even from another country!” All I could think is, “Somewhere a 7 year-old in China is asking herself the same thing…”
When it comes to food, shopping locally grown can seem expensive. We’re used to the lower prices at the megasupermarket down the street. Believe me, with 5 mouths to feed, I get the appeal. It beats paying $8 a lb for strawberries that will be demolished in under 10 minutes, right? This begs the question…
Why is the cost of local and organic foods often higher than prices at the big supermarket?
Consider that it is based on the true price of producing food, unaided by government subsidies of commodity crops, cheap oil, and underpaid workers. We pay more for our food than we realize because at tax time we pay for those subsidies. Small family and organic farms and businesses rarely get the subsidies, and they often pay their workers a living wage.
If a farm is operated organically, then the solutions to problems like pests, diseases and weeds are more costly than the pesticides and herbicides used in conventional farming. Industrial agriculture has not only had a bad effect on the environment, it has skewed our perception of what food should cost. We’ve grown accustomed to fast food “dollar menus” but what are you really getting here?
Support the business down the street and keep money in our local economy. Stop by a farmer’s market, find a food co-op, and order from your favorite organic meal delivery service today!