The Rockefeller Foundation recently released a report measuring real food prices in the United States. According to the report, the actual cost of food is about $ 3.2 trillion a year – three times what US consumers currently spend on food. These hidden costs come from the impact of the food system on society and the environment.
Dr. Roy Steiner, senior vice president of food innovation at the Rockefeller Foundation, told the food tank: That really reduces the cost. Another way to think about it is what is the true value of that food? And not only do they pay in groceries, all these related expenses must be paid by the community, taxpayers and others. ”
True Cost Calculation (TCA) can be a tool used to assess the environmental and social costs of a food system that is not present in the production system. The U.S. federal government estimates that US consumers will spend $ 1.1 trillion on food in 2019, which includes only food processing and food sales. TCA helps researchers understand the cost of food-related diseases by measuring health care costs, greenhouse gas emissions, and more.
According to the report, one of the major costs associated with the diet is the health care sector. The government spends $ 1.145 trillion annually on obesity and diabetes, as well as malnutrition and pollution. The big part of real food prices is the health burden, and in many ways we don’t have to pay that much if we eat better and create a diet that is more fair. It focused on cheaper calories, ”Steiner told the Food Tank.
The report also states that these health care costs are disproportionately borne by black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. “The BICCO communities suffer the most from food-related illnesses than the white communities, and this is because we have created this low-cost, high-quality food environment,” Steiner told the Food Tank.
Compared to white Americans, black Americans suffer more from diabetes, obesity, and malnutrition. At the same time, black Americans have 25 percent more air pollution than the national average, and 41 percent more white Americans. And Latin American Americans have 1.7 times more sugar than white Americans.
He explained that the vast majority of food workers are BIPOs who face difficult working conditions and low benefits. This puts them at greater risk for harmful chemicals such as fertilizers and pesticides compared to white Americans. And Native Americans are 19 times more likely to reduce access to water and sanitation.
The TACA estimates that the cost to the environment is about $ 805 billion a year. GHG emissions from food production and plastics, as well as land use and land transfer – all for future generations – will cost about $ 580 billion. The report highlights a number of areas that are worthless, such as food waste, which is estimated to cost Americans about $ 240 billion a year.
Steiner notes that the published results are quite conservative. We did not realize that many of the things we all know are in our diet, such as injustice, or resistance to antibiotics. Those are not zero, but we did not have the means to measure these costs. ”
Steiner is also a major concern for consumers as to how TCA affects food prices in grocery stores. These reports explain how to find a way to pay for real food prices without increasing these prices. “I think in this report, most of the grocery stores are changing the way food and government and private companies spend money, as opposed to increasing food prices,” he tells us. It motivates governments, policymakers and investors to reconsider procurement practices to avoid imposing the report and other TACA reports.
“We can change the bidding formula [to procure food] Accepted. For example, a state produces this type of food, but in reality the food is produced outside the state and has a huge carbon footprint as well as a low level of health, ”said Steiner. Using TCA, governments will be provided with tools to purchase nutritious, environmentally friendly and long-lasting real food prices.
“I love [U.S. Department of Agriculture] That would be a fundamental, structural change that would be used as a way for real budgets to be used and for the budget office to analyze real budgets, ”Steiner told Food Tank. You have to change the way capital flows, the way governments allocate public money, and this real cost-sharing approach is a framework to help people make these decisions.
Steiner hopes that this report will also improve investor decision-making practices. “We think this real investment idea can be invested in environmental, social and management (ESG) investment, so investors are using this framework when deciding whether or not to invest in a company,” he told Food Tank.
Stenner emphasizes the importance of TACN by helping institutions and companies move forward with changes in food systems. “This is a way to make the transformation of food more recognizable. That is why we are truly happy. ”
Photo courtesy of Frankie Chamaki, Unsplash