The True Cost of Cheap Food — Stone Pier Press

Low-paid workers and agricultural subsidies

The other part of our food system that keeps our bread, meat and eggs affordable depends on meat packers, field workers, factory workers and servers not being very well paid. The sector is also uneven when it comes to standard social benefits such as health care. And many food workers work in dangerous conditions; Meat packing and processing plants are among the most dangerous workplaces in the country.

The other major reason for cheap food is agricultural subsidies. The federal government pays an average of $16 billion a year in subsidies to farmers. According to American Action Forum, most of this money goes to the “big five”: cotton, corn, soybeans, rice and wheat. Much of it also goes to support the meat and dairy industry; very little is spent on growing vegetables. .

These concentrated subsidies become problematic because they encourage the growth of only a few crops, regardless of the actual market demand. This further impacts the American diet, where Americans consume more than the recommended amount of products, such as corn and corn syrup.

Possible solutions: Create more government support to produce a wider variety of fruits, vegetables and alternative proteins, and provide higher wages and a stronger union presence among food service workers.

The Rockefeller researchers are betting that while changing the food system isn’t easy, increasing the visibility of the problems makes change more likely.

Lee J. Murillo