Thursday, October 7, 2010

Standing In The Grocery Store

A friend told me today that she could have bought milk for 78 CENTS a gallon. She was only able to resist the temptation with her mantra, “That’s pus milk. That’s pus milk...”

I feel frustrated when I see valuable food priced in such an outlandish way. I want to first point out that a farmer cannot feed a cow grass for $.78 a gallon, never mind the cost to process, package, transport, and advertise it. I also realize that milk at this price is a loss leader, but I feel certain the farmer will ultimately feel the pinch because of this ludicrous price.

There is also the psychological factor. I believe Americans, and maybe people in other countries as well, underpay for their food. They even balk when something comes close to costing what it actually cost the farmer to produce it. I will say again that most people are so far removed from their food, that they lack any understanding of how it came to be on their table in that particular package.

When milk is used like this, we further undervalue it, and I believe it can have longer term effects. Doesn’t a candy bar cost more than $.78? Do people equate the value of gallon of milk to a candy bar?

And what about my friend’s little chant about pus milk? When a person buys “regular” milk instead of organic, what are they really buying? There has been so much written about what actually arrives in your gallon of conventional milk that I think I’ll skip that part and go straight to the real cost of that milk. When you buy milk from a huge cooperation whose only goal is to make money, you can bet you are not getting the healthiest product. Also, the chemicals that go into feeding the cow more cheaply or more “efficiently” have a cost that it seems like no one talks about. Chemical farming rapes the land; we abuse animals when we subject them to a diet their bodies cannot digest. At some point, someone will have to pay the price of what our society has done to its farm land so that we can buy food cheaply.

We make milk on a very small scale, one cow, one tiny piece of land. We have to buy in hay. We buy organic hay for around $3.50 a bale. The cow eats a bale a day. We get about 1.5 gallons of milk a day. So, if wee calculate the cost of our milk in hay alone- leaving aside our time, the buildings, the fence, the hay hauling, etc. – 1 gallon of milk costs us over $2.30. What is wrong with our society that we deny the producers of our food what they have earned?

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