I just caught the end of a program on Channel 4 about the cost of food, which included a poll to which apparently 55% of respondents thought that the government should intervene to reduce food prices. Do I come from another planet? As far as I can tell food prices have been incredibly low for far too long, which is why we, as a nation, are so fat and unhealthy, it shouldn’t be possible to sell some of the food for the prices in the supermarket.
They were also showing a family how they could make lots of different meals from food they would have thrown away. Therein lies one of the problems. Whilst we are busy bemoaning the rising cost of food, we are also busy filling our bins with perfectly good food that we have just changed our minds about and can’t be bothered to eat now.
I must be one of the few people who hasn’t seen a big rise in their food bills, I have just gone through the bills from the last few months, and, if anything it has gone down. I think there are a number of possible reasons for this. Firstly, we only buy what we need and rarely throw anything away, things that are getting close to their use by date, or in some cases, have gone past it, are used up thus dictating the choice of dinner. Secondly, we try to buy local or at least British or EU produced food wherever possible – thus the increased cost of transportation has less of an effect. Thirdly, we don’t eat a lot of meat, this is one of the most energy intensive forms of food, and by reducing our intake, not only are we helping the planet, but we are protecting ourselves against rising energy costs. We also do not buy ready made meals, and try to find food with the least amount of packaging – reducing the impact of rising oil prices. Finally, wherever possible, we eat organic and fair trade food. This means no reliance on increasingly expensive fertilisers and a slightly higher margin so increased costs are either absorbed, or do not represent such a high percentage of the final price.
So, the answer to the rising prices, as with all things, is to eat less and waste less, but I don’t think that this will happen until people start having less to spend on other things. Let’s face it, none of us are going to starve, unlike a lot people in other parts of the world.