Sunday, August 30, 2009

Maximal Food Minimalist?

This is part of the retrospective on pieces I have written in the past that still seems relevant today.  This post was written on April 4, 2006 at 11:54am.
 
I made a delicious breakfast this past Saturday.  As I ate, it dawned on me how silly the breakfast will sound if I were to put it on a menu:
 
Poached antibiotic-free egg with certified organic kale sauteed with double-smoked Mennonite bacon served with certified organic kefir with maple syrup and organic 7-grain bread, and organic fairtrade coffee with organic soy milk
 
But it was just a simple breakfast!
 
It is laughable that we live in an insane era when eating natural products has become an "alternative" behaviour.  Just as decluttering & minimalism has become a snobbish interior design style, back-to-basics food has become a "new age" trend (hopefully not fad).
 
I think the main barrier to popularize natural food products is the cost.  It is obviously more costly to farm organically, which logically translates to higher food costs.  What I don't understand is where the higher administrative overhead and transportation costs have gone to.  Since many of the organic products do not have long shelf life, they are generally available in small batches in local farmers market.  Without the middleman and high transportation costs trucking products across the continent, why is the retail costs still so much higher?
 
[Note: After learning more about the subject since then, I have learnt that most part of the cost comes from lower unit yield.  Commercialized organic food has also become popular where the traditional supply chain & transportation costs are still there if not more to better transport food that is more easily spoiled.]
 
One time when I was browsing around at T&T, a giant Chinese supermarket chain, I saw a few organic products for sale.  They are sold at comparable prices to similar products, and "organic" is not even prominently displayed as a selling point.  (Case-in-point: My favourite organic non-GMO soy milk Sunrise at $2.99 for 2L.)  How are these companies able to provide these products at such competitive prices?  Products like these make the decision-making process very easy.
 
I dream of one day having a neighbourhood grocer that sells environmentally-responsible natural products just as they are - eggs, bacon, kale, yogurt, 7-grain bread, coffee, etc.

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