Saturday, 25 September 2010

Is food becoming too expensive?

The FAO is having a big knees up about this very subject in Rome and I bet the buffet will be fantastic. Here in Ukraine the government is withholding grain exports in a vain and ultimately futile attempt to keep food prices down.

Since the end of WWII successive government have pushed cheap food policies through mechanisms such as CAP or central planning depending on which side of the iron curtain you found yourself on.

Cheap food must be a good thing right? Well not exactly.

Food isn’t cheap, never has been; the real cost has just been hidden, externalised and resulted in social and environmental damage.

Social damage because we are losing touch with what food is; where it comes from, the pleasure of it, the basic social engagement involved in growing, cooking and consuming the stuff. For most people the closest they get to growing food is a weekly visit to Tesco’s, not exactly an uplifting experience.

Environmental because we as farmers have had to embrace technology to make the numbers add up. Farmers do not use pesticides because we want too, it's because we have too so we can produce food at the price society has determined it is willing to pay.

This year we produced enough wheat to make about one million loaves of bread and I will be lucky if I see much return on that investment.

Food or at least commodity prices have risen mainly because of speculation but it has generated much chatter about the price of food which must be a good thing.

Food should be expensive; it should be the most expensive thing we buy. How much of your ipod/mercedes/plasma tv can you eat when your hungry?