Sunday, December 04, 2005

The True Cost of Food

We had a good turn out on Sunday afternoon for the Sierra Club film animation "The True Cost of Food." Some questions came up; some were answered.

In question was the veracity of the "real" cost of food (steak and tomatoes) for instance. They can't be real with just simple calculations. Are expenses already built in to the cost of salable items? I plan to write to the Sierra Club and ask them a few questions.

It was a vibrant group with a good representation of ages and therefore, experiences. The aspect of eating local food has not always been a question. Not too long ago we could go into a grocery store and actually identify local products -- we maybe knew the growers or producers, and maybe even at one time had taken a field trip to their farm as a school activity.

Where's the money? The difficulty of the finances of raising a family and the issue of affordability of good food was discussed. Why are locally grown products more expensive? They don't have to travel so far, if the product is organic, expensive herb/pesticides are not used.

Do local growers know how much it costs them to produce a head of lettuce? It seems to be a basic business question -- I would really like to hear the answer.

What about government subsidies? We looked to see what the USDA-Montana Ag Stats book (p14, Economic section) had to say on the subject. This is the quote:
A comparison of selected Montana industries shows agriculture continues to outpace other industry sectors by $801 million. Crop cash receipts for 2004 increased to $961 million, up $162 million or 20 percent higher than 2003. Livestock cash receipts increased in 2004 to $1.3 billion, an increase of $169 million from 2003. Government payments decreased 21 percent in 2004 to $282 million, down from $356 million in 2003.
Government payments -- what type -- Federal, State, how much of each and how applied. More questions!

And where is the money?

More later...........

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