What is the value of food?


I was reading Bean Sprouts blog this evening. She is discussing Farmers Markets and the higher prices you pay (for much better food) when you buy from these markets. She was even brave enough to say that food is cheap and has been for decades.

How does food gets its value? From its financial cost, from its rarity (truffles), from the work you have put into growing or gathering it. So is food worth more to those that grow it themselves? Could be. One year my sister and I worked on the allotment in 40degrees. For the south of England that is positively tropical. We watered our plants with sweat from our brows, pretty much literally. Stir fries had the best broccoli I have ever tasted after all that effort. Nothing went to waste, except when we were too inexperienced to realise we were losing it.

Science a go go reports that Timothy W. Jones, an anthropologist at the University of Arizona Nationwide, says, household food waste alone adds up to $43 billion, making it a serious economic problem. The BBC says 'Homes across Britain are wasting a total of 3.3m tonnes of food a year'. I can't find articles fro Australia, New Zealand or Canada) i.e. similar cultures and levels of material wealth) but loads of articles where they are reading about how wasteful us Brits are. The New York Times has a few things to add on the subject too. So why are we doing it? We wouldn't through away diamonds or pearls. Food is worth more to us than jewels (or if its not then first try living a couple of months without a pearl necklace then try...well you get the idea).

The supermarkets, in my opinion, have driven suppliers to the wall to provide food at unrealistically low prices. The quality of food is kept fairly low to keep cost down (standard chicken v free range chicken) and we have got used to food being sufficiently affordable to throw a huge amount of it away.

Rhonda at Down to Earth is very sensible with her cash but economises on things to afford good locally produced dairy products. I am prepared to bet real money that she doesn’t waste very much of anything. She has got it right (in my opinion.)

So what about abandoning the supermarkets for a while & trying a bit more 'real food'. I am probably preaching to the converted when talking to anyone who reads these sort of blogs but why not spread the word. Farmers markets are good, local butchers and greengrocers, roadside stalls, home-grown from the garden or allotment (or from parent’s garden - my particular favourite!)

So my soapbox conclusion for today it’s - food has a value and it is far higher than we are currently rating it.

Nighty night

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