What is the true cost of the food you’re buying?
I’m not talking about the dollars and cents you are paying at the market; I’m talking about the benefit or burden that food has on your health, our environment, our climate, farmworkers, the economy, and so much more.
One example is the impact of the overuse of antibiotics on our health, due to overprescribing as well as unregulated antibiotic use in the food industry. Antibiotic-resistant superbugs are on the rise, having doubled just since 2002. The human cost in the US is over 23,000 lives a year and much more globally; the economic cost of addressing this issue has hit over $2 billion nationally. Unfortunately, if not addressed, by 2050 that could skyrocket to 10 million deaths and a $100 trillion.
Another example of the true cost of food, one that can’t be fully quantified, is our loss of biodiversity. Conventional farming practices like agricultural chemical inputs, over-tilling, nitrogen fertilizers, monoculture, deforestation, and more, contribute to a massive loss of biological diversity on the planet. In fact, we’re currently experiencing the most extreme loss of life on Earth since the extinction of the dinosaurs. And that has major consequences for our food security, as we have less fertile soil, a decline in pollinators essential for food production, and other direct food losses like fish from polluted waterways.
All this is to say, we need to think about the true cost of our food.
Last week on The Doctor’s Farmacy, I sat down with world-renowned author and food columnist Mark Bittman to talk about this pressing topic. Mark has devoted his career to changing the food system and encouraging people to get in the kitchen and make more of their own, simple meals from real ingredients.
Throughout this episode, Mark and I talk about why the true cost of food needs to be at the forefront of a much-needed food policy along with more examples of how it’s impacting our health and quality of life. An avid chef, Mark also talks about why cooking at home can be so transformative and shares why this is a big part of the solution to our food and healthcare crises.
I hope you’ll tune in to start thinking more deeply about the true cost of your food and what to do about it.
Wishing you health and happiness,
Mark Hyman, MD