If you are a bit on the older side, (younger generations may have heard their parents say it) you may recall this saying:
An apple a day keeps the doctor away.
This was a reminder to eat your fruit (and probably vegetables) to get better nutrition and stay healthy. A recent article on HuffPost uses apple production as an example of the unsustainable practices in use today by big farming. The true costs of production are not what we pay at the grocery store for a tasty and beautiful apple. There are many hidden costs that consumers are not aware of or don’t like to think about. What are these costs?
A new study has found that every 1 kilo (2.2 pounds) of conventionally grown apples creates health effects costing 21 cents due to the effects of pesticides and fungicides, resulting in sick leave and eventually shorter life expectancies.
Every British pound of food sales comes with another pound of hidden costs to society, through, among other repercussions, environmental pollution, ill health related to production and diet-related diseases.
In this article, apples are just an example. 21 cents doesn’t seem too bad, right?
When you look at the numbers for the UK, it starts to look more significant. The hidden costs of one pound of food make the cost of food double what they are paying. Add up all the products we consume every day and the number becomes extremely significant.
In order to get food to consumers efficiently, large-scale farms usually produce one crop on a massive scale.
Conventional farming practices focus on monocultures, genetically modified organism (GMO) seed use and pesticides, polluting both crops and groundwater, as well as conventional plowing methods that result in topsoil erosion.
As stated by the Huffington Post’s Otto Sharmer, an economist, the argument for maintaining our current agricultural practices is that we need these huge quantities of food to be produced on an industrial level in order to feed everyone. However, the facts don’t hold up. According to Sharmer, we waste up to one-third of industrially farmed crops due to problems in distribution. So the food supply is there, it is just not getting to everyone who needs it.
We have two or three times the amount of food right now that is needed to feed the number of people in the world (stated by Joshua Muldavin, a geography professor at Sarah Lawrence College who focuses on food and agricultural instruction).
So what can be done about today’s food supply problem?
What’s needed is a transition strategy at scale that brings today’s global agricultural system into the 21st century, into an economic environment that is no longer blind to the issues of health, water, biodiversity and climate change.
As consumers, it is up to us to make sensible choices about how our food is going to be produced and distributed. Regenerative agriculture improves our health, water, biodiversity and can put the brakes on climate change. We can vote for regenerative agriculture with our dollars. You CAN have an apple a day, but buy one that is locally produced and in season.
Please read more about the solutions in the full article: An Apple Shows Just How Broken Our Food System Is