Make a difference: the real cost of your food

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Towards the end of 2017, the SUSTAINABLE FOOD TRUST published a report suggesting the food we eat in the UK costs us twice as much as it appears in our shopping bills, in ways we do not realise.

THE HIDDEN COST OF UK FOOD report estimated that while £120billion is spent on food in the UK each year, another £120billion is incurred in additional costs such as treatment for diet-related disease, natural capital degradation and biodiversity loss. This “shadow economy” is passed onto the public sector, taxpayers and future generations — so British consumers are picking up the bill for a fundamentally flawed system.

The claims made by this report challenge the widely-held belief that we are spending less on food than ever before, as a proportion of income compared to previous generations. Instead, it is now becoming clear that industry pressures to keep retail prices of food as low as possible over the past few decades have led to detrimental effects. The damage includes a distorted economic system, diet-related ill health, food contamination and reduced quality, antimicrobial resistance, air, soil and water pollution, soil degradation, biodiversity loss, global warming and the depletion of natural resources.

As the report states, “the current approach to food production is not serving us well, and thrives largely because it does not account for the full costs of production.”

At Gathering we have always believed in respecting the true cost to our planet whilst producing food. Clearly, more needs to be done and we have only just begun. There is an urgent need for greater truth, trust and transparency in food production, from our own small farms and to the wider food systems and industries beyond our pastures.

To download the full and summary versions of The Hidden Cost of UK Food report, visit the Sustainable Food Trust website HERE.