New Book Examines Hidden Costs of Broken Food System • Protecting Children’s Health


“Real Cost Accounting for Food: Balancing the scales,” written by farmers, researchers, scientists and other experts, provides a new lens through which to understand the real social, human , economic and environmental costs of food.

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“True Cost Accounting for Food: Balancing the Scales,” addresses the unseen costs of a broken food system. the new book suggests that a better food system is possible if the true cost of food is considered at every step of the supply chain, from the farm to the landfill and so on.

“True Cost Accounting for Food” provides a new lens through which to understand the social, human, economic and environmental food costs. True cost calculation is an integrated food system evaluation tool intended to illuminate and measure the flows, exits and dependencies of the food system, both negative and positive.

Edited by Dr. Lauren Baker, Paula Daniels and Drs. Barbara Gemmill-Herren, the book begins with an introduction from three detailing the many factors that constitute true cost.

“Behind all the food we eat there are a whole lot more places that don’t count for conversations: the circulation of water from rivers; the extraction of nutrients from the soil; the observance of air pollutants and water; increasing employment to grow, manage, select, and pack; release carbon dioxide to deliver and deliver; and so on, ”they wrote.

“If we shed light on these interactions it would be clear that a 99 ¢ hamburger costs us all more than the dollars a consumer puts in the hands of a cashier.”

The real cost calculation is a “new food economy and a new relationship to the land and food we eat, starting with a holistic view of an unbalanced system and concluded with a new business approach and integrated reporting, ”the editors conclude.

The book’s chapters were written by a diverse group of experts, including farmers, researchers, scientists, lawyers and other experts. Among the authors is Nadia El-Hage Scialabba of UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Patrick Holden sa Sustainable Food Dependence and Saru Jayaraman of A Good Pay.

One stated throughout the book is that true cost accounting can be used as an economic tool to research and encourage sustainable agricultural practices.

Chapter 2, titled “Cotton in Egypt: Helping Interpreters Understand the Costs and Benefits,” by Helmy Abouleish, Thoraya Seada and Nadine Greiss, details a 2020 study comparing at the price of the usual versus organic farming in Egypt – a country with severe land degradation and thirst.

“Organic food is actually cheaper to make than conventional products, if the external cost for pollution, CO2 emissions, energy and water consumption are considered, ”write Abouleish, Seada, and Greiss. “It’s now being passed on to society or future generations, but if it’s seen in the supermarket bill, it’s visible to everyone.”

Similarly, chapter 9 examines how a realistic cost accounting approach can help encourage almond growers in Central California to adopt innovative farming methods.

In “Foster Healthy Soils in California: Farmer Motivations and Barriers,” Authors Joanna Ory and Alastair Iles explain that the initial cost of purchasing, planting and growing crops is often unaffordable to farmer to use the method. Less than 5% of coastal vegetable farmers in Central California use cover crops.

The authors argue that growers are unaware, or do not understand, the environmental, social and economic benefits of cover crops. They focus on improving bee health, preventing soil degradation, filtering water, conserving carbon, reducing the use of synthetic fertilizers and preventing soil deterioration. More information – and prompting policies – could lead to more adherence to sustainable agricultural practices.

Limited knowledge about the costs and benefits of the agricultural industry has also affected buyers.

Consumers are often unaware that for every dollar they spend on food, they are paying an extra dollar in hidden costs, write authors Patrick Holden and Adele Jones. Costs that can be reaped as taxes to clean up polluted waterways, or as environmental degradation that will affect future generations.

The book also focuses on success stories in communities that know how to price goods holistically.

The book’s companions found “True Cost Accounting for Food,” as a powerful resource for transforming food systems, with intuitive solutions such as continuing to invest. and agricultural subsidy reform. True cost accounting “has the potential to transform to maximize the positive benefits of food systems,” said editor Lauren Baker of Food Tank.

Originally published on Food Tank.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Children’s Health Defense.



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