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Thursday, May 20, 2004 05:41 pm

Prairie Notes 5-20-04

Funny how we sometimes see the value of things. I've never heard of someone shopping around for the cheapest doctor or the cheapest hospital -- after all, when it comes to our health we want the very best, and hang the cost.

But when we go to the supermarket, we want cheap!

Most people would probably call it "value," but the idea is the same: Pay as little as possible. It's hard to believe we aren't making the "You are what you eat" connection; maybe we're just assuming food is food and if it doesn't have a skull and crossbones plastered on it, it must be OK to eat. Your call.

Everybody knows the government subsidizes agriculture so that food can be sold at prices below the true costs of production. Apparently we've gotten used to that. But what about the other subsidy, the one nature provides? The current abundance of cheap food depends on the consumption of nonrenewable resources, which we're using up at an exponentially increasing rate. Even though that's obviously a paradigm with a definable end, we manage to justify it in the name of world hunger or corporate profit or whatever your hot button is. Anyway, the techno-gods will save us in the nick of time no matter what we do.

Of course, we could choose to increase our food sustainability through the use of renewable resources and pay enough for it that our farmers could make a living wage -- but then it wouldn't be cheap anymore.

I know -- that's a pretty radical idea for even for a liberal newspaper to print.

Just a thought.

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