Monday, April 2, 2012

Hidden Costs of Cheap Food

Majia here: The hidden costs and externalities of our "cheap" food production system include risks from pesticides, fungicides, and herbicides to our health, our soil, our fresh water, our air, and our oceans. 

I have a very detailed powerpoint on Food politics I'll be posting asap.

Here is a recent article addressing some of those costs for the workers who labor to produce our cheap food, but who are grossly inadequately compensated. These are regarded as disposable people by our food production system:

Why Are People Dying to Bring You Dinner?By Christopher D. Cook, AlterNet
30 March 12

[Excerpted" We hear of the sweatshops behind our computers, sneakers and other attire - yet the exploitation of farmworkers has become normalized. Somehow food, so intrinsic to our daily lives, escapes the kind of justice we should take for granted in 2012.

Our ongoing "harvest of shame" is about more than water and shade. It is about toxic pesticide exposures that send farmworkers to the hospital - up to 20,000 are poisoned annually according to the Centers for Disease Control. It is about rock-bottom wages for back-breaking work: more than 60 percent of farmworkers live south of the poverty line. "Hired farmworkers continue to be one of the most economically disadvantaged groups in the United States," the USDA says, noting, "they are sometimes forced to sleep in their vehicles, in tents, or completely outdoors."

Farmworkers receive just half the average hourly wage of other private-sector workers, yet their pay represents up to 40 percent of food production costs for "crops such as fruits, vegetables, and nursery products," according to the USDA....

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