By Joe Mullings
On my commute into work every morning I like to listen to the business channels on satellite radio. I typically listen to Bloomberg Radio or CNBC if I want more “bullsh*t” chatter and listen to people talk over each other. For the past week as earning reviews have come out, my brain has seemed to be tuned into the earnings reports of food based businesses and restaurants chains. I hear commentary about the massive profitability of food products, ease of access due to “drive thru windows”, profit margins on Frapuccinos and similar drinks at Starbucks, the new “Pub Burger” that McDonalds is coming out with in the upcoming months and how the consumer is fighting hard to keep their monthly food costs down in their monthly budgets.
With that, publicly traded food companies and restaurants are constantly looking for ways to drive down costs in their businesses. Losing all the romanticism regarding food, these companies are nothing more than manufacturing companies making a product. Their raw materials are the actual “food” themselves. I quote the word “food” for a reason. The advertising costs, transportation costs, supply chain costs, etc. These food companies are driving down costs to provide more food for less money. Less money for example being a “dollar menu”. What could you possibly buy for a dollar that comes in a container (cup, bag, sack, bowl) that could possibly have any substantial nutritional value other than a load of useless calories, fat and carbohydrates? Next time you go to McDonalds or any other fast food restaurant for that matter, pay attention to the amount of paper, plastic and overall waste that comes with the so-called food you bought. It is likely the packaging cost more than the food you bought and are about to ingest.
So back to the raw material costs and expenses of the actual “food” you buy at these food companies and restaurants. The raw materials needed to be able to mass produce these products directly lends itself to clearly question their quality and value to you as a consumer.
There are dozens of reasons that “organic” or “locally farm raised” foods are often 3 to 5 times more costly than that of factory produced food. There are also reasons why these organic and locally farm raised foods are 3 to 5 times more robust with vitamins, essential minerals, proteins as well as being safer than the factory produced food. I propose in the long run, the organic and locally farm raised foods are substantially cheaper than the factory foods. Take a look at the obesity and obesity related diseases and death statistics over the past 25 years. Income and ability to spend money on “good” food draws direct correlations.
Sure its expensive to eat well. Consider the following as an example. Organic or locally raised animals cost quite a bit more because they have substantially lower yields per acre, higher feed rates due to grass feed and acreage required to feed the animals properly, higher labor rates and also a much longer time to allow the animal to grow to full size naturally
Factory raised animals uses “fillers” in their low quality feed. Farmers are paid by the pound for their livestock. The bigger the animal the more money they get. So it is driven by quantity not quality. Use of food fillers include cardboard, sawdust and cement dust. Use of antibiotics in factory farming of animals is required due to the density of the animals in the facility. Sick animals infect the other animals and cause major issues which cost the farmer money. Feed is infused with antibiotics to attempt to keep the animals as healthy as possible before slaughter. Additionally, to accelerate growth, farmers will use hormones to grow bigger animals. Use of antibiotics, hormones, filler dense feeds…a farmer can create an animal, unnaturally in half the time it would take under natural conditions.
Unfortunately, the United States has become a culture that no longer cooks and preps meals at home on a regular basis. Packaged, microwaveable, plastic bag boiled, fruit-roll up, Trix are for Kids Yogurts, etc. have taken the place of “made from scratch meals” with fresh and organic ingredients. It takes time to plan, prep, cook and clean up these meals 3 times a day. It also takes an awareness as a parent, spouse and consumer to stop and look at what we are putting in our bodies. Meal after meal, day after day, year after year. Once you do that, the way to health becomes very clear. It then should become a choice.