True Cost of American Food Conference
14-17 April 2016
San Francisco, California
Last month, Shumei participated in the first-ever conference on the “True Cost of American Food” organized by the Sustainable Food Trust in partnership with the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. The gathering took place in San Francisco from 14-17 April 2016 with hundreds of participants, the largest event of its kind, according to the organizers. The four days were filled with high-profile and talented speakers and experts from the food and agriculture sector, as well as public health experts, environmental scientists, community, animal welfare and workers’ rights advocates, policy consultants, philanthropists and researchers. There was also a special message from the Prince of Wales.
True Cost Accounting is an evolving tool for assessing the costs and benefits of different food production systems. It helps us to account for the hidden costs and damage of our present intensive farming systems on the environment, such as air and water pollution and soil degradation, climate change and social costs from wages to healthcare costs associated with obesity and disease. The main take away was we need to look at food from a systems approach and the dynamic relationship between the food choices we make, where it is produced, the impact it’s production has on the environment and our health as well as the health of the farmers and laborers who are providing us with this food and the economic impact this food has on all of these components.
True Cost Accounting emphasizes the interconnectedness of nature and all living things and the choices we make – a way of thinking that is very much in line with Shumei Natural Agriculture. Rather than just an approach to producing pure, wholesome and nutritious food without the use of any additives, Natural Agriculture is a way of living that is grounded in an overriding respect for nature. Recognizing the interconnectedness of all living things helps us to make better decisions and guides the way we interact with the natural elements and with others. This holds true for the “high cost of cheap food,” which was pointed out by the public health experts at the conference. Eating cheap food has a cost to our health, our environment, our workforce and our economy through the tremendous healthcare costs associated with unhealthy diets. To learn more, you can visit the conference website for videos from the panel discussions.