What’s the Real Cost of our Food?
Typically, agricultural productivity is generally measured by yield and cost per hectare. This metric, however, provides us with an incomplete picture of what the true costs and benefits are when associated with agriculture and food value chains.
Current methods of production, processing and consumption are generating a sizeable and unacceptable impact on the health of our environment and on humans too. This is particularly prevalent when looking at vulnerable populations and the effect greenhouse gas emissions are having on our planet.
For example, let’s take the cost of an apple at an average supermarket – the cost does not take into account how the apple was raised. By raised, we mean the damage to the environment, the possible health risks being incurred due to fertiliser and pesticide runoff, regeneration of soil, fair wage payment to labourers and transportation around the world, etc.
In order to achieve universal food security, the Global Alliance for the Future of Food funded a project to look at all the impacts of the value chain.
Below are just some of the results of our current structure:
- Agricultural production contributes over 1/4 of greenhouse gas emissions.
- According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, if women had the same access to resources (land, credits, education, etc.) as male farmers, they could raise yields by 20 – 30%and lift as many as 150 million people out of hunger.
- Approximately 1/3 of the food produced in the world for human consumption every year gets lost or wasted – enough to feed the world’s hungry six times over.
- 61% of commercial fish populations are fully fished and 29% are overfished.
- In a “business-as-usual” scenario, the ocean will contain more plastic than fish (by weight) by 2050.