Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Should food be cheap?

It's a question I sometimes ask. On one hand, everyone is entitled to decent, healthy food-it is part of the bounty of the earth-a gift from God.

On the other hand, Big Agriculture and factory foods have made food very cheap, driving small farmers and businessmen out of business.

It used to be that most of a family's waking hours were devoted to food production. As my 91 year old neighbor put it, "We never had any cash, but we ate well." The desire for cash, (i.e. things) killed the family farm-along with the theory of 'economy of scale' championed by Capitalism and Big Ag.

So, if a small family farmer wants to make a living, how does he do it? I will quote from Kelly Klober's book Dirt Hog :

Very little money will ever be made farming for the global village, but the folks in the big houses above the global village, now there's your market.

I don't like it. I would like to produce quality pork for regular folks; they should be able to taste and enjoy pork the way it should taste. It's not just a prerogative of the rich. Yet, I can't stay in business unless my pork is priced for the 'big houses above the global village'.

So is this my problem or the problem of regular folks? Let's put it this way, if man used to spend most of his waking hours securing food through labor, should he now do the same through his paycheck?

The world is different. (Things, I believe are out of kilter, but this is out of the hands of most folks.) Most need cars and other things just to make their way in this world. What is a necessity and what has turned into a 'necessity' through marketing?

My family (the whole family) spends a good part of our time putting food on the table. We haven't bought meat in over a year. We don't grow all our own food, but are getting there. What we don't grow ourselves (or receive from our neighbor's surplus bounty) we buy from a farmer's market. Cash-wise, our food bill is pretty low, but labor-wise, it is pretty high-just ask the kids.

Stuff to think about.


I keep coming back to this general idea (whether expressed by CS Lewis or in this case St. Catherine of Siena): "All the way to Heaven is Heaven". I heard another form of this on Sunday. Our visiting priest commented that we all want to spend eternity with God; if that's really the case, then why don't we spend more time with him now-in prayer?

I guess if we are truly living in the presence of God now-(quite a journey to get there, I would imagine)-then Heaven will not be so much different.

Oremus pro invicem!

1 comment:

TS said...

Interesting thoughts... I know I'm more willing to pay more for (better) food now than I was 10-15 yrs ago, but I'm not sure whether it's due simply to being less able to tolerate fast food at 45yrs old than at 30, or it's because my taste in food has improved or whether it's merely having more disposable income now...or all of the above.

I know there has been many more farmers markets in our area (even at work they offer a farmers market once a month!) so it's really the "happening" thing. I have to believe that the "good food" movement is trickling down from the upper classes to the middle classes.

Anyway interesting post. It's a dilemma to which I have no answer.