What if Food Prices are Wrong?

Overcrowding chickens is one way to cut costs

Many people are put off of buying organic because of higher prices. This is understandable; there are some cases where the organic choice is twice the non-organic price. But perhaps this is the wrong way of looking at the situation. In order for something to cost twice as much as something else, you need to have the base price from which to calculate. But what if that base price is wrong?

What if chicken that costs $2.79/lb. only got that low because large factory  farms continuously cut corners to cut costs. Placing 3 times the number of chickens that could move about comfortably in a confined space would lower the cost. Keeping them indoors for their entire life would shave a few more dimes per pound. Growth hormones will speed up production and reduce the price again. At the point where the consumers would be shocked and offended by the animal’s treatment, the price is wrong. We would choose to pay more for more humane animal husbandry and less harmful additives had we all the information at our disposal.

We should think twice before using the absolute lowest cost as the base price from which we compare “higher” prices. If the base cost is ill-gotten and morally offensive, we should never have gone there in the first place.

In North America, we spend only about 10% of our incomes on food. In France, they spend close to 15%, Italy and Germany, nearly 20%. In Honduras, almost 40%. Why is food so cheap here? There are a number of reasons. One of them is that the price is wrong.

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