It wasn’t until I read Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle that I discovered just how radically the food industry has changed in the past 100 years, thanks in large part to fast and cheap transportation, not to mention the wonders of refrigeration.
Somehow, since the dawn of life, people in North America managed to get by without bananas. Citrus wasn’t shipped north and even coffee, perish the thought, wasn’t readily available.
In addition to weighing the value of eating organic foods–especially milk, apples, and potatoes–I’ve been looking into the possibility of eating locally. Typically I balk at the cost of farm stands and farmers markets, especially if the food is organic.
Lately I’ve been considering other factors that go into the cheap food at our supermarket. For example, shipping apples from West to East results in all kinds of emissions. Oil is used to make plastic bags for packaging.
Meanwhile the pricey local products have most likely traveled less than 50 miles and require little packaging. If they are organic, the high price tag is due to the labor-intensive farming that goes into organic certification.
We’ll never cut ourselves off from the supermarket, but while we have the farmers market as an option, we are trying to fight off our love of money long enough to purchase some pricey, locally grown food today. Americans love a bargain, but when we weigh the cost of cheap food to our environment–and ultimately to ourselves and our children–I think it’s worth looking into other options before stocking up at the local supermarket.