Monday, December 1, 2008

Efficiency and food security

The Corpus Callosum has an interesting post up about the relationship between efficiency and food security. The main premise is that efficiency, as measured by "the market" or by standard economics (i.e., number of X per dollar spent) is probably not the best way to measure the effectiveness of a food supply system.

This seems to me to be a primary problem in allowing the market to "work." The fundamental assumption in that view is that monetary cost is exactly equal to total cost of a product/widget/service. But, of course, companies can externalize most of their non-monetary costs (some would say the real costs--such as environmental destruction, poverty, poor health, insecurity, etc). So the model's fundamental assumption is flawed: monetary cost is much less than actual total cost.

Eventually, people will realize that it makes a lot more sense to have a lot of (fully employed and tax-paying) small farmers growing a variety of foods using a minimum of (non-renewable) resources than to have a couple of (tax-avoiding, outsourcing) big companies growing one kind of (resource-intensive) food. I hope I'm around to see it--because if it doesn't happen soon, I suspect that the people who end up in that world will have lived through a lot of really bad conditions in order to get there.

No comments: