We Get What We Pay For

We consumers can collectively change the food system by choosing to buy nutritious, wholesome, high-quality, organic foods.

Organic Produce for Sale

Every time we choose to buy organic produce — or grow it ourselves — we get a better deal: nutritionally, environmentally and ethically.

Photo by Fotolia/Sherri Camp

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In our June/July 2014 issue, we take a close look at the shortcomings of industrial food production.

Noted environmental journalist Richard Manning outlines in Hidden Downsides to the Green Revolution: Biodiversity Loss and Diseases of Civilization, how agriculture’s so-called Green Revolution of the mid-20th century is delivering a high-carb but nutrient-poor diet, which causes chronic health issues for humans and livestock. Contrary to what Big Ag likes to claim, industrial agriculture is not feeding the world, nor is it “sustainable,” given its heavy dependence on fossil fuels. We interviewed food and farming activist Vandana Shiva to expand upon these points and to highlight community responses to the advances of corporate agriculture in Farming Free: An Interview With Food Sovereignty Activist Vandana Shiva.

In Try a Flexitarian Diet for Better Health and a Better Food Budget, food writer Kim O’Donnel illuminates many of the negative consequences related to the production of meat in huge confinement facilities. O’Donnel discusses why many people are switching to a more plant-based diet, choosing to become “flexitarians” by eating less meat and choosing higher-quality meat than what comes from the industrial food system.

When we decide to spend more for superior-quality, grass-fed meat, our choice not only fosters our health, it also helps mitigate global warming. As climate-change researcher and rotational-grazing rancher Wayne White explains in Pasture Management and Carbon Sequestration: Healthy, Diverse Pastures Are Natural ‘Carbon Sinks’, the proper management of grazing livestock on pastureland actually allows the soils beneath the grasses to become “carbon sinks,” pulling climate-altering carbon dioxide back into the ground, thus helping to reduce global warming.

These experts present compelling evidence that we have allowed industrial agriculture to steer civilization onto a destructive path. It’s up to us to change that direction. Every time we decide to pass on junk food and instead spend a bit more for pastured eggs and meat, or opt to buy organic grains, produce and dairy products, we win in three ways: better health for our families, more humane treatment of livestock, and less damage to soil, water and other natural resources.

For example, our report in Is Organic Milk Better? summarizes a new study showing that organic milk, from cows fed on pasture and forage, is more healthful than milk from industrial dairies that feed their cows mostly on grains and “concentrates.” The organic milk samples in the study averaged an incredible 62 percent more essential omega-3 fatty acids than industrial offerings.

The old adage “You get what you pay for” holds true here. If we choose to buy whatever food is cheapest, we get less value — nutritionally, environmentally and ethically. But if we understand the consequences of cheap food vs. quality food, we will opt to pay a little more for the good stuff, which will help deliver the good life.

Simple daily choices, made by thousands and thousands of individuals, are what will ultimately foster the emergence of a sustainable food system that can truly feed the world and protect the planet.

We hope the articles in this issue will convince you it’s worth it to pay a bit more for your burgers.

randyandsandy
9/15/2014 11:52:04 AM

I find the comments posted by alphadorsey offensive. Nothing that I read in this article or in other articles from Mother Earth News can be construed as "white privilege" and "bourgeois experience". In fact, I always find it to be educational and enlightening to "all of humanity" regardless of race or class! It's about learning skills in self sufficiency and using resources in a healthy sustainable manner. My children and I have been in a lower economic class and on food stamps at one time. But I never gave up my freedom to choose clean healthy life giving food for them even if I had to grow some of it or barter. I grew up poor and my grandmother always had a little garden and shopped little roadside stands. She could make a big pot of soup and a pan of cornbread with very little but Oh So Nourishing!! . My desire for "education" and "choosing good over victimhood" was key to successful healthy life building skills, not money, class or race. Alphadorsey I will give you advise on how the lower classes can be a part of shaping the food landscape, it's called " choices" (we all have them) and "self education"! Use your honest imagination and build food security with positive choices. Mother Earth News is a great resource. I'm not vegan but a little less meat and a lot more veggies on the plate is nourishing to the body and filling to the tummy. I forgo getting my hair and nails done when it means I have to feed my family clean healthy foods. Its challenging at times but limiting big box store purchases and junk food helps to free up money for healthier options. I choose to grow what I can like cabbage beets carrots broccoli beans garlic leeks tomatoes squash peppers and strawberries. I have containers for herbs and rainwater. I do this on a small city lot with free and recycled materials. Did you know that you can buy seeds with food stamps or save them from fresh veggies? Did you know many farmers markets have a kiosk for those with an EBT card? I've made friends with a few local farmers who are "non white" as well as white. What a wonderful resource of knowledge and vision and good food! They have made choices! Visit them. They work hard to bring healthy life giving food to all who want it and their own family. We need to reshape a food system that's being taken over by multi-billion dollar conglomerates. It's going to take all of us, no matter who we are or where we came from to use our brains and our brawn! Let's put our shoulder to the wheel to ensure that us and future generations will continue to have say so over our food choices. Ask God to help you find a way. Choose to prepare the food with love and thankfulness! And then share your knowledge and experience with others who need and want it! You will be blessed!


becca
5/15/2014 8:18:38 AM

I appreciated the articles on Vandana Shiva's food activism and the Hispanic Access Foundation, plus all the how-to gardening stories that empower readers to do-it-themselves. Think globally, act locally.


alphadorsey
5/12/2014 10:12:48 PM

If by we the consumers, you mean we, the white middle class consumers, then sure. Go for it. Do me a favor, take a step back and stop universalizing your bourgeois experiences. Remember, oftentimes choice is limited by an often racialized economic system that privileges one class of people over another. Nowhere in this article did you offer a means for low income people to actively engage in the reshaping the food system.