Nicolette Hahn Niman wrote great op-ed a couple of weeks ago in the LA Times. She argues that the choice between eating cheaply and eating sustainably is a false choice; if conventional agriculture were forced to pay for its negative health and environmental externalities, sustainable produce would compare favorably.
"Longer-term policy changes should include reinventing government food, farm, education and nutrition programs to make healthy eating easy and affordable. A few examples: States and localities should facilitate the acceptance of food stamps at farmers' markets; school districts should create lunch programs that offer healthier meals and purchase from local farms; federal and state agriculture departments should help beginning farmers set up sustainable farming operations and reestablish programs that teach citizens skills for cooking, canning and growing some of their own food."
Cheers to Niman for her insightful Op-Ed article on the false choice between sustainable farming and cheap food.
The government's words don't match up with its actions. We are told that we should eat more fruits and vegetables, while less than 1% of agricultural subsidies go toward growing fruits and vegetables.
As a result, the price of fruits and vegetables has increased by more than 30% over the last 30 years while the prices of most other foods have dropped.
I do, however, take issue with Niman's claim that individuals can do little to solve the problem. With the right setup and some basic coaching, many Los Angeles residents could grow their own fruits and vegetables for far less than they cost to purchase at a grocery store.
In my experience there is no better way to foster healthy eating than growing your own heirloom tomatoes.