The Real Cost of Cheap Food

If I had a dollar for every time someone said that they don’t buy fruits and vegetables or “healthy food” because it’s too expensive, I could feed a small town all organic food for years! But, of course, it’s true — when you look at the prices of so-called “conventional” junk food compared with local, organic fruits and veggies, on a calorie per dollar basis, the junk often wins. Many people assume that it’s the produce or organic foods that “cost more” than highly processed, shelf-stable ubiquitous and cheap junk food, but what if the price tags that we see don’t tell the whole story?

Take the very American, $1 hamburger, for example. To produce a fast food burger you need to start with growing corn — which requires acres of corn fields, seeds, gallons of water, gas for heavy machinery, pounds of fertilizer and sprays of pesticides, and government subsidies. Then you need to fatten cows as quickly as possible, potentially give them antibiotics, deal with their waste, transport them to slaughter, power the slaughter facility, refrigerate the ground meat and then cook it! Not to mention all the costs associated with the processed wheat bun and condiments. Are economies of scale really so efficient that all of those costs amortize over tons of ground beef and fixings to make a really cheap burger, or are there parts of that whole list of “costs” that don’t actually show up in the price of our fast food burgers? Click here for more information. dv1897014


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About jensera

Jennifer Harrington is a Toronto-based illustrator, writer and graphic designer. She illustrated the best-selling children’s book series 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' which includes the titles 'A Moose in a Maple Tree,' 'The Night Before a Canadian Christmas' and 'Canadian Jingle Bells.' She is also the owner of JSH Graphics, a boutique graphic design agency that specializes in print and web advertising. With her latest project, Eco Books 4 Kids, Jennifer has partnered with illustrator Michael Arnott to create a series of ecologically-themed ebooks for children. Her next book, 'Spirit Bear,' is due for release in the Summer of 2013. Jennifer offers two different school presentations for her 'Moose in a Maple Tree' collection, an illustration demonstration and a Christmas concert series, which can be booked at She will be taking bookings for school readings of 'Spirit Bear' beginning in October 2013.

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