Streams

The High Price of Cheap Food

Friday, August 28, 2009

Bryan Walsh, who wrote the cover story for the August 31st issue of Time magazine, "Getting Real About the High Price of Cheap Food," tells us about the high cost of cheap food. Somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed tightly with other swine. He’s dosed with antibiotics and fed American corn that was grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer. The pig waste on the factory farm goes into manure lagoons that create air pollution and a putrid stench in neighboring communities. When the pig is slaughtered, he'll become sausage or bacon that will sell cheaply, feeding an American addiction to meat that has contributed to an obesity epidemic currently afflicting more than two-thirds of the population.

You can read the article here.

Guests:

Bryan Walsh

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Comments [36]

Jennifer from Astoria, NY

With regard to the difficulty of getting fresh food in lower income areas, one idea that has been successful in some areas of New York City has been CSA's, or Community Supported Agriculture programs. Participating in a CSA (usually a family-owned organic farm) is similar to buying a share in a company - once you are a part-owner of that farm, it entitles you to weekly "dividends" during harvest season - you get a package of everything that has been picked that week by the farmer. Several CSA's in the New York area accept food stamps as payment. This is a wonderful way to make a connection with a farmer to really find out where your food comes from. Information on New York CSA's is at www.justfood.org.

Thanks again for the wonderful program.

Sep. 01 2009 09:27 PM
Jennifer from Astoria, NY

Rosie - thanks so much for the fantastic show. I was unable to tune in live but was able to listen in to the recording on the website.

Kudos to Bryan Walsh for putting this issue front and center in one of America's most-read publications. During the discussion about obesity in America, I wish this point had come through more clearly: Americans are unhealthy because the majority of the plants and the animals they eat are unhealthy. Agribusiness grows corn and other large crops in soil that has been so overworked and depleted of any nutrients that it needs large amounts of chemical fertilizers to produce meaninful yields. Without those fertilizers, those plants would be so unhealthy growing in that soil that they would die. Likewise, the animals (who, incidentally, eat large amounts of this unhealthy corn), are unhealthy because they are forced to eat a diet that they cannot naturally digest and are forced to live in stressful, unclean living conditions. Scientific studies have proven that cows that live on spacious farms and are grass-fed have many times more of the good omega 3 fats and other nutrients in their systems as their corn-fed, highly stressed out brethren. When these plants and animals are turned into food for humans, the humans' food is now sorely lacking in nutrients and our bodies remain hungry because of this deficiency, and as a result, we eat more food to try to compensate. (Similarly, any human that drinks large amounts of sugary sodas will not have any nutritional needs satisfied, and will want to continue to eat and drink more as soon as the sugar high subsides). The key, therefore, is to try to eat plants and animals that were healthy and not nutritionally deficient when they were alive.

Sep. 01 2009 09:26 PM
Haim Roitgrund from Lyon, France

what a pleasure to have Ms. Perez as host.
Good luck, and come back soon.

Aug. 30 2009 11:10 AM
anonyme

MIguel I totally disagree, Rosie is a charming, natural and warm host!

Aug. 28 2009 04:11 PM
Miguel from the Bronx

Bought 2 apples and a can of mixed nuts yesterday and paid $6.14! at the local Keyfood... We also have a little farmer's market in the neighborhood park but I find the prices there a little steep: a bundle of Basil and Cilantro cost $2 EACH! That's $4 for 2 bunches of herbs.... hmmmm I can get that cheaper at WholeFoods.

Also, I used to be a vegetarian for 20 years starting in the early 80s. When I stopped in the early 00s, I decided to buy everything organic/ free range. I now realize that I was actually making more of an impact by putting my dollars towards the organic food producers than by just boycotting the meat industry. Before I was just invisible now my dollars are registered.

Also, Rosy, I think you sound really sweet, but, either you are really nervous or you're not very good at being able to pronounce words very well. Maybe I'm old-fashioned here, but I cringe when radio hosts keep stumbling over words, saying "you know" all the time, and using "a" instead of "an" when a noun with an initial vowel comes along....
Please practice 'cuz your personality is very pleasant. :)

Aug. 28 2009 02:20 PM
Mary from Manhattan

On a recent vacation I visited a dairy farm in
Ashland, NY, just down the road from Windham,
where I was staying at a resort. It is family-
run, and they sell their milk to a local cooperative. The cows are in spacious stalls
with individual water and food during the day,
and go out to pasture every night. The barn is
clean and the owners welcome visitors. If this could be done everywhere - but that's a
dream!

Aug. 28 2009 01:53 PM
marisa from NYC

Rosie, you were great. When do you get your own show?

Aug. 28 2009 01:51 PM
phyllis

judy from NYC (24), my thoughts exactly.

Aug. 28 2009 01:17 PM
anonyme

Another small thing to do is save your kitchen scraps (veggies, not oils or meats) and take them to the composting booth at the farmer's markets - this puts you back in the growing cycle, providing real fertilizer that's not made from petrochemicals.

Prepare foods cost more than fresh foods. It is worth going out of one's way to get fresh foods and knowing your farmers and how they grow your food.

There are CSAs and co-ops and buying clubs to join - whole Foods has good things I buy, like 365 brand organic coconut milk (bargain) or raw say sauce but not vegetables!

Aug. 28 2009 12:46 PM
Pooja (pronounced Pooh-ja) from NYU student

Rosy, you are doing amazingly well. Riveting show. The real solution lies in policy, media and education. Those will affect consumer choices. Subsidies should be provided for small farmers not factory farmers. Urban gardening and permaculture gardens for low socio-economic groups grown by students in elementary and middle schools is just one example.
Apologies for multiple comments but I'm enthralled by this show. Also, I have a few questions for Mr. Walsh. If he could get in touch with me or if you could provide me with his email it would be much appreciated.
Thank you.

Aug. 28 2009 12:44 PM
Audrey from Bronx

I live in the Bronx and have to drive to Fairway or whole foods in order to find fresh produce and meats that are raised organically and without antibiotics. Not only is accessibility an issue in certain neighborhoods of this city, but the mindset that makes cheap fatty, salty foods not only more accessible, but more desirable. Parents are not cooking for their children. As a teacher I see what the kids eat for breakfast, and hear about what they eat for dinner, and it's not usually something that their parents have cooked. Fast food and chinese food (fried and salty)is what is nourishing our kids and they don't see anything wrong with it.

Aug. 28 2009 12:44 PM
Jgarbuz from Queens, NY

I eat healthy and relatively cheap. I eat in accordance to the Atkins diet, that is, meat, eggs, cheese, butter, and other low carb, high protein foods. As for fruits, mostly blueberries or strawberries. As for veggies, mostly cucumbers. Don't eat anything made of wheat, rice, sugar or other high carbohydrate foods, except on rare occasions. And so am not obese and spend only about $60 a week on food for myself at most. Most junk foods are empty calories and not that really cheap.

Aug. 28 2009 12:43 PM
judy from NYC

wonderful discussion.

What's wrong with being an ultra liberal left wing socialist?

Aug. 28 2009 12:39 PM
JP from The Garden State

Doesn’t it make sense to encourage people to eat fruits and vegetables and get them hooked on eating well and feeling well then just insist they are not paying enough for food unless they are eating just organic vegetables that are way over priced at places like Whole Foods?

Aug. 28 2009 12:38 PM
anonyme

Everybody needs to pay attention to legislation and to stay on your congress and senate reps about legislation. There's some AWFUL stuff going on that will kill small farming and make this whole discussion mute. I kid you not. One good place to sign up for action alerts is http://www.farmtoconsumer.org/

Aug. 28 2009 12:38 PM
Lauren from Woodbury, NY

Rosie, I couldn't agree with you more—low income people can't afford the benefits of organic, and therefore, many poo-poo it (an on-going argument I have with my partner).
But furthermore, their health suffers.

I CAN tell the difference between organic and non, and my meals taste better, and my body KNOWS the difference.

FYI:
Regular produce SKU # has a 7
Organic SKU # 9
Genetically modified SKU # 8

BTW, Queens Health Emporium in Fresh Meadows has great prices.

Aug. 28 2009 12:38 PM
Lee Mandell from Bushwick

Hi,

I just wanted to point out that there are a number of us starting urban farms to help supply high quality produce and a reasonable price. I have started a farm, Boswyck Farms, here in Bushwick as part of this movement. The Rooftop farms in Greenpoint and Added Value in Red Hook are also good examples.

There is a group of us here in Bushwick that are starting a program with the goal of growing a substantial portion of the food consumed in Bushwick right here in Bushwick.

Aug. 28 2009 12:37 PM
mozo from nyc

I'm currently in Central Florida. Most people here and in most of the US unfortunately don't care a whit about whether their food is organic or not. No one cooks and their restauarnt options are mostly fast food chains. And no one walks anywhere. You can't -- you have to have a car. I have seen so many fat people down here that it boggles the mind.

Aug. 28 2009 12:36 PM
Jennifer from NYC

Bottom line - vegetarian is better - or meat rarely - also buying not just organic but free range as well!

Aug. 28 2009 12:36 PM
Troy from Brooklyn, NY

Mike C, you know gender isn't just a human trait, right? We might need to talk some birds and bees. Though I'm sure viewing animals as genderless, thoughtless things makes it a lot easier to abuse and ultimately eat them.

Aug. 28 2009 12:35 PM
Amy from Manhattan

I thought I'd seen signs at the Union Sq. Greenmarket saying they accept food stamps. Maybe it was a different program?

Aug. 28 2009 12:34 PM
Mollie from Brooklyn

Many NYC farmers markets accept food stamps.

Aug. 28 2009 12:34 PM
matthew

24 nyc farmers markets take foodstamps
http://www.cenyc.org/greenmarket/faq#q12

Aug. 28 2009 12:33 PM
Amy from MANHATTAN

A LARGE NUMBER OF NYC GREENMARKETS ARE ACCEPTING FOOD STAMPS FOR THE SUMMER.

Aug. 28 2009 12:32 PM
lag

Some farmers markets do actually accept food stamps: http://www.cenyc.org/greenmarket/plastic

Aug. 28 2009 12:32 PM
Judith Targove from Highland Park, NJ

It's important to test the soil of any waste spaces in cities or towns to be sure there are not dangerous levels of lead or other chemicals.

Aug. 28 2009 12:32 PM
Pooja (pronounced Pooh-ja) from NYU student

And in reference to organic, if we knew how non-organic produce and meats are grown or unsustainable seafood are fished we would not be consuming this way. I urge the listeners to research the origin and ingredients of the foods they consume to make a more conscious decision. As consumers, if we pay more for better food (better for our body, others - farmers in other countries as well as the Earth) we will create a demand for better food reducing the cost as opposed to continuing the demand for unsustainable and unhealthy food products.

Aug. 28 2009 12:32 PM
capper from nyc

Yes, some Green Markets do accept food stamps.

Aug. 28 2009 12:31 PM
Pooja (pronounced Pooh-ja) from NYU student

I couldn't agree more with Mr. Walsh. As consumers, we are so disconnected with the origin of our food. What happened to the days where we obtained pleasure from growing and cooking meals? Now cooking involves unpacking a frozen soi-disant "meal" and shoving it into a microwave and pressing a few buttons. The idea of a meal has been demoted to a drive-through with fried, artificial substances. If we, as consumers, realized what actually want into our food, we wouldn't be eating this way.

Aug. 28 2009 12:31 PM
JP from The Garden State

Back in the Early 80’s when I was a young teenager, there was a fast food restaurant on every corner just like today. You walked into any supermarket or convenient and you saw just as much cheap crappy corn based food as there is today. We did not have the great wisdom of the internet back then. Just the government bombarding us with the food pyramid and four food groups. Cable was in every home and yes, video games, not as popular today but still very popular. There was over weight kids but not nearly what it is today. So with the instant all knowing society living off the internet with all this known knowledge of how bad our food system is, how are kids still getting fatter then ever? How much of this is really about parents just giving their kids what they want to eat then being “ignorant” in thinking somehow 5 meals a week at McDonald’s is somehow good for you and cheaper then healthy food?

Aug. 28 2009 12:31 PM
Pooja (pronounced Pooh-ja)

I couldn't agree more with Mr. Walsh. As consumers, we are so disconnected with the origin of our food. What happened to the days where we obtained pleasure from growing and cooking meals? Now cooking involves unpacking a frozen soi-disant "meal" and shoving it into a microwave and pressing a few buttons. The idea of a meal has been demoted to a drive-through with fried, artificial substances. If we, as consumers, realized what actually want into our food, we wouldn't be eating this way. And in reference to organic, if we knew how non-organic produce and meats are grown or unsustainable seafood are fished we would not be consuming this way. I urge the listeners to research the origin and ingredients of the foods they consume to make a more conscious decision. As consumers, if we pay more for better food (better for our body, others - farmers in other countries as well as the Earth) we will create a demand for better food reducing the cost as opposed to continuing the demand for unsustainable and unhealthy food products.

Aug. 28 2009 12:29 PM
capper from ny

Yes, some, Green Markets accept food stamps.

Aug. 28 2009 12:29 PM
Javier Bronx

Rosie, Ask Bryan why the organic food industry is so damn racist.

Aug. 28 2009 12:17 PM
Bistko from NYC

Why does organic milk have a longer shelf life then non-organic milk?

Aug. 28 2009 12:14 PM
David NYC

O.M.G.

Aug. 28 2009 12:08 PM
Mike C. from Downtown Manhattan

I find it a bit bizarre that in your synopsis for this story the hypothetical pig is referred to as "he." Anthropomorphism can be such a silly thing.

Aug. 28 2009 12:02 PM

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