Posts Tagged ‘policy’

The Middle Man


Portrait of a Farmer, Italy © Jim Korpi

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.” Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

Where does my money go? Does it go in the pockets of friends, family, those I know? I cannot think of a dollar I spent recently that went directly into the hands of someone I knew. The food I eat, the roof over my head, the fire in my stove, all these things are provided for by someone I don’t know.
The Gate’s Foundation published its annual letter with a chart showing the United States as the country spending the smallest percent of its income on food in the world. It seems reason for celebration. Maslow’s pyramid of needs requires us to get things like food out of the way before we can “self-actualize.”
A special report was drawn up for Congress in 2009 titled Farm-to-Food Price Dynamics revealing the movement of money with regards to our food. In 1950 if I spent a dollar on food, a farmer got 41 cents. In 2006 a farmer got 19 cents. What does this mean for a farmer? What does this mean about our value of food?
In 1950 for every dollar I spent on food 59 percent went to what is called “marketing bill,” the cost of bringing the food from the farmer to the buyer. This is everything from transportation to processing to the electricity at the supermarket. In 2006 for every dollar spent 81 cents went to this marketing bill. This means in 1950 I most likely bought food that was less processed and had to travel less to get to me. This means I most likely bought food from someone I knew.