Michael Pollan: “Our Food is Dishonestly Priced”

This interview by Amy B Dean at Truthout with Michael Pollan is tremendous and a must read. In it, Pollan drops some informative nuggets about how the foodie movement has been seen as elitist in the past – with some justification – but how he and others within the community that has focused on transforming the food system have evolved to understand that to do so requires much more than only thinking about whether the food is local, organic or grass-fed.  Instead, it also requires focusing on food justice, access and, as Pollan discusses, how the workers who prepare our food are compensated and treated:

“When you buy cheap food, the real costs have been externalized,” Pollan continued. “Those externalized costs have always included labor. It is only the decline over time of the minimum wage in real dollars that’s made the fast food industry possible…Why is that crap so cheap? Our food is dishonestly priced. One of the ways in which it’s dishonestly priced is the fact that people are not paid a living wage to process it, to serve it, to grow it, to slaughter it.”


Please check out the interview in it’s entirety as Pollan makes the case that “we need to pay people a living wage so they can afford to pay the real cost of food. Cheap food is really an addiction for an economy and for a society.” The sobering point though is that labor isn’t even the only thing making cheap food possible.  In fact, it might not even be the biggest subsidy provided to the industry. Amongst other things, cheap food also negatively impacts the environment and our health, with an all-in cost to taxpayers of almost $4B per year for just the 10 largest fast-food companies.


Time to get to Swichin!


Photo Credit: David Welch