“The less we spend on food, the more we spend on health care,” said Michael Pollan last week on Oprah.
Today, Americans spend almost 20 cents of every dollar managing disease–diabetes, allergies, asthma, cancer, obesity–and only 10 cents of every dollar on food.
The jury is still out on what exactly may be causing all of these epidemics, but genetics don’t change that quickly, the environment does. And increasing evidence points to the role that diet is playing in the onset of disease.
In a perfect world, we’d all be growing our own organic vegetable garden, but most of us don’t yet live in that world. With picky eaters, limited time and a limited budget, we are trying to do the best we can with what we’ve got and are frustrated by the price discrepancy between conventional food and “organic” food at the grocery store.
But have you ever wondered why organic food costs more?
Organic food costs more than its conventional counterparts because our taxpayer dollars are not used to support organic farms to the same extent that our dollars are used to support conventional farms. Under our current system, it is more profitable for farmers to grow crops laced with chemicals than organic ones because they will receive larger government handouts from the USDA farm subsidy program, more marketing assistance and stronger crop insurance programs.
If farmers do choose to grow organic crops, it costs them more because not only do they not receive the same level of financial handouts from the government, but they are also charged a fee to prove that their crops are safe. On top of that, they are then charged a fee to label their crops as “organic.” As a result, organic farmers have a higher cost structure–with added fees and expenditures required to bring their products to market–while our taxpayer dollars are used to subsidize the crops with the chemicals.