9 days and I can eat chocolate again. About a month ago I realized that I was eating waaaay too much chocolate because it was around the house. So I stopped, until my birthday (which just happens to be on Easter, we aren’t talking Lent here). This weekend is busy for celebrating. Tonight is a sweet 16 for a friend’s daughter so I made marshmallows dipped in chocolate and rolled in graham cracker crumbs (oh how I was to try one). Tomorrow I have a shower for Amanda from work in the afternoon. The theme is drinking cosmos and giving her home-related gifts since they just bought a house (we grouped and bought a shop vac, sprinkler and cooking pot….woot). And then overlapping is a wild party for a young engaged at our church in the Penthouse of a hotel, swimming in the pool and eating good food. So I guess I should have just skipped the glass of milk and cheerios I just ate for lunch.
At the grocery store today I got to thinking (I am so guilty of buying cheap food: the cheapest massive bar of chocolate and the non-organic chickpeas): maybe our big problem with inequality in the economy starts with overproduction of food and low food prices.
Food is one of those things that we are going to buy no matter how much money we have. However, now is takes up a very small percentage of income in comparison to what it used to. In 1933 consumers spent %25 of their income on food. Now we spend less than 10%, of DISPOSABLE income (source). This has been great in improving nutrition (or would be even more if we ate the good stuff) and freeing up money to provide for shelter, education, clothing….and and and. The ”and’ is the problem. We now have the money to consume until our heart’s content (which is sort of an oxymoron) leading to environmental problems, wastage and a corporate culture that actually directs money away from the lower and middle classes into the corporate pockets and concentrating the wealth at the top.
So far here we are at. High food production and low food prices cause:
1) too much disposable income
2) cheap unhealthy foods linked to obesity
3) increasing culture of consumerism
4) culture of consumerism causing us to mass-produce everything with little regard for the environment
6) general discontent with all the ‘stuff’ we have (the story of stuff)
But there is more. It is ruining our economy. The demand for cheap food prices causes large corporations to agglomerate farmland and output so that one farmer can feed the same number of people with less land and well, fewer farmers. This has two major consequences:
1) less land for more food means pesticides and unhealthy soil. This in turn means unhealthy food that may be poisoning us and practices that are bad for the environment
2) fewer farmers are making a living off the same amount of land. One farmer stays and ten leave because if we want cheap food we can’t pay for expensive (and caring) human labour. These people need to then find work elsewhere. That means the cities (pollution and consumption) where they work for the corporations making the cheap food (or supplying it or the cheap products we also demand) but making less than they would have otherwise.
Now, this part also includes a great amount of globalization at fault and the exporting of employment. However, our society can run on services. Yes, to an extent. But there aren’t good jobs in most services unless you work at the top, and we all know the pyramid of corporate structure: there is so much less at the top than the bottom. If a greater chunk of the population was making a decent living wage in agriculture then they wouldn’t be in the job market for low-paying service jobs. We are having the carpet pulled out from under us and we can’t do anything. When there is no production left, where is the money entering our economy?
Maybe the rise in food prices does have its benefits. Although just paying more won’t change much if the system stays the same. The corporations that own the massive farms just make more money. No, we need to go back to small farms, with small but organic (or at least well-taken-care-of crops). This gives the money back to the farmers and creates real jobs. It also cuts off the supply of cheap sweet corn that goes into most of the cheap, nutritionally void food we buy in the form of high-fructose corn syrup.
This was long. It seemed like a “stick it to the man” post. Maybe it didn’t make sense. It is a rather broad of conspiracy type theory. I still have to think it all over a bit more but I think that is one of the major downfalls of society today.