It doesn’t really seem fair that we pay more for organic foods, wines, clothing and personal care products. But that’s the way the system works, right?

Organic farmers pay high costs for the certification and the more labor-intensive farming practices that organic farming requires. In turn, we consumers pay the organic premium to keep pesticides and other chemicals out of our bodies and the environment.

Conventional farms, on the other hand, do not pay fees to counteract their unsafe farming methods. Nor do they pay fees to restore the damage their practices place on our health and our farmland. In fact, the government pays conventional farms to continue producing unsustainable volumes of food (much of which feeds livestock, not people) at deceptively low cost.

Wouldn’t this make more sense?

Governments place a high tax on cigarettes, which encourages people to not smoke them. Those tax revenues are then used (or at least they’re supposed to be used) to fund anti-smoking campaigns.

Wouldn’t it make sense if a similar tax model were applied to conventional (i.e. not organic) farming methods? The revenue earned by taxing conventional farms could be used to restore damaged environments. It could also be used to incentivize conventional farms to transition to organic. And it could help to subsidize the cost of organic products so they would be more accessible to everyone.

With fewer pesticides and healthier livestock, our exposure to harmful chemicals would be reduced. In turn, subsequent healthcare costs would presumably go down. And the more we save on doctor bills and health insurance, the more we could afford organic products. Likewise, the more the government would save on its share of healthcare costs, the more they could subsidize healthier (instead of detrimental) farming practices.

Thoughts?

Sure, this is an oversimplification. But with some holistic thinking and practical, long-term planning… could something like this work? Is this my idealist dream or is it a feasible reality?

Organic certification is expensive. As a result, many farmers employ organic farming methods, but do not pay for the certification. Finding organically-grown foods at your local farmer’s market or through a local CSA subscription is a great way to eat “organic” without paying as high of a premium.

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