What are the hidden costs of cheap food?

Posted on 22 Mar 2011 in Support Ethical | 1 comment

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Cat made a great point on here about very cheap food… she says when people vote with their feet and buy it they “have given the Food Industry a clear message that cheaper is better.”

Of course she is absolutely ruddy right!

People are making their choices on the information and the prices they have in front of them. The problem is that the information and the prices are “imperfect” (as economists call it!)

Why? Because people are lacking:-

1. Clear info i.e. knowing exactly what they are buying and what went into making it.

2. Prices that reflect the true value of the product, including the knock-on costs of making it.

To make food really cheap requires cheap oil, mass production & distribution and cheap labour. The side effects of these processes can be harmful (pollution, poor health from obesity or chemicals used in farming, poor animal welfare, environmental damage, exploitation of workers) but none of these externalised costs are included in the price or visible to the person buying the stuff.

Here’s an example on cheap salad from the Guardian that really sums this up…

At hiSbe we believe when people have information like this they will make different choices.

The Food Industry can support it, but the winners in the industry will be the ones that PRE-EMPT it and COMMIT to credible change!


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One comment

  1. Joe / March 22nd, 2011 16:47

    After reading this post and then the example you link to it certainly has made me think, I’m horrified at the exploitation of these workers.


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