Well Being

Why Food Prices Should Go Up, Not Down

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Photo: Flickr user evan brom

Most of us would like to see prices go down, not up, but food blogger Michelle Madden of The Sweet Beet is going against the grain: In an essay published on Huffington Post, Madden asks: “Is food too cheap?” She answers “yes,” and it's not because she secretly works for a food manufacturers: In a nutshell, she says that bargain-basement food prices have led Americans to eat too much, waste too much, and stop valuing our food the way we should.

Madden's questions about food cost were inspired by a trip to the grocery store while on vacation in Arizona, where she was visiting her parents. She was looking for chicken breasts to use in a recipe, but could only find massive, discounted packages. She didn't want a lot of cheap chicken, she says; she just wanted enough good-quality meat to feed her family. The massive, two-for-one packages of meat prompted her to consider what American food budgets have done for not just our economy, but for our waistlines and health, too:

In the early 1900s we spent 25% of our income on food, today we spend less than 10%, and it's dropping. Over the past 25 years, the price of a McDonald's hamburger has gone down 30%. Is it any surprise our waist lines are expanding, and our illnesses worsening, with every dollar we save?

Madden also brings up a commonly bemoaned issue with food pricing: That healthy foods like vegetables are far more expensive than Froot Loops and factory-farmed meats, but Madden's point gets to something that most critics of our food system don't: That food shouldn't be cheap, period. High-quality, nutritious foods shouldn't come in discounted bulk packages. (And besides, how could they? You can keep a five-pound bucket of pretzels in your pantry for years, but bulk kale has a less forgiving expiration date.) Making all food cheap shouldn't be our goal; it should be to stop pricing processed foods so low that they become the only affordable option.

via Huffington Post

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