top of page

Survival is Expensive {Week 8 CSA}


In the tapestry of a globally connected world, the relationship between rising food costs, sustainable food production, and the hidden costs of modern agriculture weaves an intricate pattern.


The complexities we're facing at the nexus of our ecological, economic, and agricultural woes lack our complete understanding, but there are crumbs of clarity we can follow. Hints of how we can rework what's broken and clues about where we've sacrificed too much in the name of progress or convenience. While the cost of food has been a popular topic since post-pandemic inflation settled in, several factors have been working against the accessibility of healthy food for many decades. With no end in sight to economic forces driving up prices, environmental challenges will affect food costs in the same way as global climate patterns become increasingly erratic and devastating for crops.


But before we jump into the quagmire of rising food costs, it's worth noting that the relationship between Americans and their grocery bills has been an evolving one. Before the Great Depression, Americans spent between 20-25% of their budgets on food, while more recent surveys report that percentage at just 10-12%. Increased disposable income and more working adults per family certainly factor into that smaller pie slice, but we also have to consider how our culture around food has morphed.


Since the 1920s, Americans have been cooking less and relying more on premade foods. Busier lifestyles, greater work demands, and an increasingly convenience-driven culture have changed the way we view and experience our meals. The rise of readily available premade meals, fast-food options, and processed foods made it easier for individuals and families to opt for quick solutions rather than spending time preparing meals from scratch.


Additionally, American farm subsidies artificially lower commodity crop costs by providing financial assistance to specific farmers. This leads to increased production and oversupply, driving prices down and influencing the affordability of certain foods. The reason highly processed foods rely so heavily on wheat, corn (hello, high fructose corn syrup), and soy is that those are the main commodity crops receiving government subsidies. You'll never find subsidized vegetables because they are considered "specialty crops" and are ineligible for government subsidies. It's why we encourage people asking"Why is healthy food so expensive?" to actually inquire: "Why is unhealthy food so cheap?"


It's poignant that, as a country, we spend less on whole foods compared to other industrialized nations, while we spend the most on health care. A nuanced topic, yes, but two trends worth considering in tandem. Perhaps we could even deduce how much of our modern epidemic of lifestyle diseases is in fact tax-payer supported.


Beyond the simple wisdom that "we are what we eat," there are the more hidden impacts of a world shaped by the detriment of modern agriculture. The Green Revolution's pursuit of higher yields and increased productivity led to the widespread use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, inadvertently setting in motion a chain reaction of environmental and human health consequences. While these practices initially promised abundance, they have sown the seeds of soil depletion, an issue that goes far beyond the mere loss of nutrients.


As healthy soils lose their organic matter, they become less biologically active and unable to absorb carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. That excess CO2 finds its way into the oceans, causing acidification, posing a severe threat to marine life and the ocean's delicate ecosystems. Simultaneously, reduced soil respiration affects the exchange of gases between the soil and the atmosphere, further exacerbating the concentration of greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. The death of the ocean would trigger catastrophic environmental degradation with far-reaching consequences for the entire planet, and suffocating soils is its most threatening factor.


While regenerative agricultural practices are no silver bullet for the immensity of what we face, it does hold one of the keys to restoring balance to our ecosystems by rebuilding healthy, resilient soils. The simple effort to increase the organic matter of lifeless dirt brings the restoration of microbial life, carbon and moisture retention, and respiration back to our soils, thus reducing carbon pressure on our oceans and atmosphere.


Supporting and adopting regenerative agriculture practices requires a shift in mindset and collective action. It asks that we acknowledge the hidden costs of growing food "as usual." To see these practices reach an impactful scale, policymakers must recognize the need for incentivizing and promoting regenerative agriculture through supportive policies and programs. If we can justify the farm subsidies that are fast-tracking the degradation of our nation's soils and health, surely we can rally for policies supporting their amelioration.


Farming with consideration of the impact left in its wake is harder and more expensive to pull off. But do we even have a choice? It is in our collective hands to shape a world that we can pass on to our great-grandchildren. Our pocketbooks might be lighter for it, but our bodies stronger our hearts richer.


Thank you for being a part of something hopeful.



Farming at a hand scale only makes sense when we can imagine a modern world that has chosen to reconnect with its food and reclaim the power of small, decentralized food production.



Inside Your Box This Week

Cherry Tomatoes

Head of Lettuce

Purple Radishes

New Potatoes

Curly Kale

Salad Mix

Scallions

Kohlrabi

Carrots



 

Recipes Worth Trying...

{click images to go to recipe}



 

For supporting our small organic farm.

For helping pave a way forward for regenerative agriculture.

For investing in young farmers.

For buying local.

We're honored to nourish you!








0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page