chapter  7
22 Pages

Cheap food … but at what price?

WithMichael Carolan

Fields like Ecological Economics allow us to convert the long shadow cast by the status quo into a form that even cheap food proponents cannot ignore: dollars and cents. If we can successfully use agro-ecological controls in place of pesticides, then one cancer victim for each US$3.2 million in pesticide benefits seems a terribly high price to pay for our "cheap" food. If an affording foodscape can deal with the scourge of poverty, by, for instance, paying a livable wage, then rising food prices can be more than absorbed by rising incomes. Agricultural lands have historically focused on maximizing certain provisioning services, with the production of food and fiber at the top of the list. The “willingness to pay” literature indicates—findings that span across nations, from, say, the United States to Chile and China—that willingness to pay for things like local, organic, and carbon neutral foods are negatively correlated to age and positively correlated to income.