Posts Tagged ‘mass production

Food Economy: More = Worse

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The US has never had so much food. Since mass food production began after World War II, famine has become an intangible concept we read about in history books. We’re loaded with calories that are pennies on the dollar. And this superlative abundance is going to backfire.

Truth is, more = worse in this context. Reason 1: Low-cost food sells most. And in order to keep foods at low (or lower) cost, food supply has to rise faster than food demand. This has obviously been true for the last 50 years: the demand for food has continually dropped as supply has increased exponentially. That trend has to continue for food to remain cheap or cheaper – i.e. production has to consume more of our rapidly-depleting resources to keep food in an affordable abundance. More = a greater collapse in the future.

Reason 2: Agrochemicals. That’s swank for chemically-based food preservatives. Mass-produced food stocks shelves quicker than it can be consumed. It needs a longer shelf-life than fresh food. Agrochemicals (let’s just say preservatives) were implemented (via heavy subsidies from the government that still keep candy, soda, and other less-nutritious foods cheap) to boost the longevity of food before extensive research was done on their health consequences. While not all preservatives pose a significant threat to health, they generally decrease the primary nutrients of food. More = less nutrition.

Reason 3: Disease. If you saw Food Inc., you can picture what the mass production of meat looks like: crowded feed lots, animals covered in feces, etc. The fact is, we’re growing animals more quickly by altering their anatomies, diets, and habitats – decreasing the nutritional they bring to our table while increasing the risk of food-born illnesses. Popular food author Michael Pollan does a great job of explaining the science behind this in The Vegetable Industrial Complex. Basically, more = less nutrition, and more = more risk.

This volume imperative has perverted the entire Western food landscape. The way we shop for food now mirrors the way we shop for bargains. Healthy, natural food is double or triple the cost of what’s bad for our bodies. Obesity rates have quadrupled since 1970, especially among children under 10. And some of the most basic assumptions about our global food system (food safety, future supply) are now in question.

Something’s got to change. As long as the money’s in the right hands, though – and as long as the money of mega-companies producing unhealthy food is controlling the shelves of our supermarkets – significant change is left to grass-roots businesses that refuse to enter the system.

That’s what we’re doing at in.gredients. Truth be told, you won’t find some of the conveniences you enjoy at the supermarket in our store for reasons explained above. We’re not competing with supermarkets. Our brand new business model will exist in opposition to what’s normal in the grocery business because what’s normal isn’t healthy for our customers. We care about the future health of our community and local food economy. So while we have to make a profit to succeed as a business, we’re showing the industry that health has got to matter more than profit if we’re going to turn the poor food health train around.

If you care about any of this, please visit us once we’re open. We’d love to meet you and learn about your food interests!

Written by Brian Nunnery

January 24, 2011 at 2:11 pm

Is in.gredients More Expensive than the Supermarket?

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If organic foods don’t contain any additives or processing, shouldn’t they be cheaper than foods that do? It makes sense at first glance. But the answer is actually “no” for a few reasons.

Highly-processed, chemically-treated foods are cheaper because you’re paying for them with your taxes. After World War II, the US government (and other European governments) needed to ensure that the severe food shortages experienced during the war didn’t happen again – and began to heavily subsidize agro­chemical (generic for farm chemicals and preservatives) agriculture with tax dollars to promote mass food production. Common agrochemicals include such corn-based preservatives as dextrose, maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, and absorbic acid. The subsidies worked. Argochemicals weren’t designed to be nutritious or tasty, but rather to boost production as cheaply as possible. So while chemically-fueled food products are cheaper, they also lack in quality.

Organic farmers don’t receive any subsidies from the government, so they have to charge more for their product to stay profitable. Since their foods are of better quality than non-organic products, the higher cost is justifiable to the consumer – though frustrating since we don’t typically think of food as something to spend extra money on. Still, eating healthily is important, and eating organic and natural foods is legitimately better for you than eating the alternative. And that’s more expensive. But in.gredients offers an alternative shopping method that lowers your barrier of entry into healthy grocery shopping: ultimate portion control.

Portion control isn’t just healthier. It’s more affordable. In typical supermarkets, you don’t have control over how much you buy outside of the deli and produce sections of the store. Most food is pre-packaged, so the amount and cost is determined for you. In this system you can’t always guarantee you’re buying exactly what you plan to use. If you need 1/4lb of granola, for example, you may have to resort to buying 1lb of it for a higher cost. If you need 3 cups of curry powder, you may have to buy 4 small containers of it to have enough. In these scenarios, you’re not only spending more for what you need – you’re generating more food and packaging waste. Were the 4 small containers really necessary? And what about all that extra granola?

Having control over how much you buy helps you spend less, reduce waste, and make your grocery shopping more efficient. That’s why our shopping model is so appealing. We want our customers to have affordable access to good food, so selling everything in bulk lets our shoppers choose exactly how much they spend while reducing their waste production.

Consumerism doesn’t fit at in.gredients. While we’re a for-profit business, we’re not selling our shelves to companies after exponential-volume sales. We’re out to prove that a for-profit grocery store can make organic more affordable, make local food more accessible, and make waste reduction more practical – and make your dollars good dollars by giving a portion of our revenue to local community programs.

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