£26bn: the hidden cost of our food

A new report from independent think tank the New Economics Foundation (NEF) reveals the true cost of the UK food system:

  • It costs more than we think: total external costs, from obesity to agricultural subsidies, come to £26bn – an extra 28% on top of what we already pay for our food.
  • It’s bad for the environment: damage from aggressive agricultural methods costs the economy at least £7.2bn each year.
  • It’s inefficient: the UK food industry uses up eight calories of energy to produce every one calorie of food
  • t reinforces economic inequality: supporting bad jobs, volatile prices hitting the poorest the hardest and just 0.25% of the UK population owning all 17 million hectares of agricultural land

    Photo credit: John Carleton

A focus on high productivity and low checkout prices has led to a dysfunctional and damaging food system. The new report highlights case studies across the UK and Europe which prove sustainable, affordable food is possible.

A flawed understanding of success

The historic definition of success in a food system – high output and low prices – is outdated.

NEF’s research – which includes case studies from the UK and throughout Europe – identifies eight indicators of success for modern food systems: a neutral or positive environmental impact, energy efficiency, diversity in species and genes, the support of good jobs, simple supply chains, inclusive ownership of assets, a positive food culture and good public health, and the affordability of food for everyone.

read more… – New Economics Foundation (NEF)