Transcript: Finding the True Cost of Food | Jan 08, 2018

Steve sits in the studio. He's slim, clean-shaven, in his fifties, with short curly brown hair. He's wearing a gray suit, blue shirt, and striped red and pink tie.

A caption on screen reads "Finding the true cost of food. @spaikin, @theagenda."

Steve says TYPICALLY WHEN WE TALK
ABOUT THE COST OF FOOD, WE MEAN
THE PRICE OF FOOD.
THAT TALLIES UP STANDARD
ECONOMIC INPUTS AND OUTPUTS, AS
WITH ANY PRODUCT ON THE MARKET.
AND WHILE THAT MAY WORK FOR
WIDGETS, ACCORDING TO OUR NEXT
GUESTS, IT'S A PERILOUSLY
INCOMPLETE RECKONING IN THE CASE
OF FOOD AND OUR FOOD SYSTEM.
JOINING US NOW TO EXPLAIN:
RUTH RICHARDSON, EXECUTIVE
DIRECTOR, GLOBAL ALLIANCE FOR
THE FUTURE OF FOOD...

Ruth is in her early forties, with short auburn hair. She's wearing a gray blazer, a pearl necklace, and matching earrings.

Steve continues AND ALEXANDER MULLER, A MEMBER
OF THE GERMAN COUNCIL FOR
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND
STUDY LEADER FOR TEEB AGRI FOOD,
A GLOBAL INITIATIVE HOSTED AT
THE UNITED NATIONS ENVIRONMENT PROGRAMME.

Alexander is in his fifties, clean-shaven, with short gray hair. He's wearing glasses, a gray suit and a white shirt.

Steve continues WE'RE DELIGHTED TO HAVE YOU TWO
IN TO TVO TONIGHT TO HELP US
UNDERSTAND THIS SUBJECT MUCH
BETTER.
ALEXANDER, I THINK I'M GOING TO
QUOTE FROM YOUR STUDY TO GET US
STARTED HERE. SHELDON, BRING
THIS EXCERPT UP, IF YOU WOULD?

A quote appears on screen, under the title "The top priority." The quote reads "Agriculture is arguably the highest policy priority on today's global political agenda, in recognition of its widespread impacts on food security, employment, climate change, human health, and severe environmental degradation."
Quoted from Alexander Müller, TEEB for Agriculture and Food. May 2015.

Steve says OKAY.
THAT'S FROM THE TEEB AGRIFOOD
REPORT.
YOU WERE THE LEAD AUTHOR ON THAT
REPORT.
I WANT TO GET INTO THIS.
TELL US OFF THE TOP, WHAT WAS
THE REPORT'S MISSION?

The caption changes to "Alexander Muller. TEEB Agrifood."
Then, it changes again to "The economics of cheap."

Alexander says IF YOU
LOOK AT THE CURRENT SITUATION,
YOU WILL SEE THAT WE HAVE
835 MILLION PEOPLE BEING HUNGRY,
BUT WE ARE PRODUCING ENOUGH FOOD
FOR EVERYBODY.
WE HAVE 24 BILLION TONNES OF
FERTILE TOPSOIL WE ARE USING
ANNUALLY, GONE BY THE WIND AND
THE RAIN.
AND WE ALSO KNOW THAT BY 2030,
WE WILL HAVE TO FEED 9.5 BILLION
PEOPLE.
IT'S REALLY CLEAR THAT DOING
MORE OF THE SAME IS NOT A RECIPE
FOR SUCCESS, AND THEREFORE, WE
HAVE TO CHANGE AGRICULTURE IN
ORDER TO FEED A GROWING
POPULATION AND IN ORDER TO
DEVELOP OUR SOCIETIES TOWARDS
SUSTAINABILITY.
AGRICULTURE IS IN THE CENTRE.
PEOPLE DON'T REALIZE IT.
THEY'RE ONLY LOOKING AT
AGRICULTURE AND THE KILOCALORIES
CONSUMED.
WE WANT A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE
IN ORDER TO FEED FUTURE
GENERATIONS AND TO KEEP THE
PLANET HEALTHY.

Steve says LET'S DIVE IN.
WHY, RUTH, IN YOUR JUDGMENT, IS
IT IMPORTANT FOR US TO
UNDERSTAND WHAT YOU CALL THE
TRUE COST OF FOOD?

The caption changes to "Ruth Richardson. Global Alliance for the Future of Food."

Ruth says SO I THINK
FIRST OF ALL I'D LIKE TO
DIFFERENTIATE BETWEEN PRICE AND COST.

Steve says OKAY.

Ruth says SO WHAT'S THE PRICE OF A FAST
FOOD HAMBURGER.
I THINK IT'S ABOUT 2 dollars 50.
THAT'S THE PRICE OF THAT
HAMBURGER.
THE COST OF THAT HAMBURGER IS
ACTUALLY A LOT MORE, AND IT
INCLUDES THE COST OF
DEFORESTATION IN THE AMAZON.
IT INCLUDES GREENHOUSE GAS
EMISSIONS TO THE ATMOSPHERE,
FROM THE TRANSPORTATION OF THAT
MEAT FROM THE AMAZON TO CANADA.
IT INCLUDES MEDICAL COSTS THAT
ARE SKYROCKETING NOW DUE TO
HIGHER RATES OF STROKE AND
OBESITY AT THE HOSPITAL.
SO FOOD IS REALLY ONE OF THE
MOST DEFINING THINGS, AND IT
GOES BEYOND THE PRICE YOU
ACTUALLY SEE IN THE STORE.

Steve says SO OBVIOUSLY THE
2 dollars 50 WE PAY FOR THAT HAMBURGER,
NONE OF THAT COMPRISES ALL OF
THE EXTRA COSTS THAT YOU JUST
INDICATED.

Ruth says EXACTLY.
WHAT WE ALL EXTERNALITIES,
COSTS THAT ARE EXTERNAL TO THAT
HAMBURGER.
UNLESS WE UNDERSTAND THE TRUE
COSTS, WE CAN'T MAKE INFORMED
AND TRUE DECISIONS ABOUT WHERE
WE NEED TO GO.
WE NEED TO UNDERSTAND THOSE TRUE
COSTS SO BUSINESSES, FOR
INSTANCE, CAN MAKE BETTER
DECISIONS ABOUT THEIR SUPPLY
CHAINS, GOVERNMENTS CAN MAKE
BETTER DECISIONS ABOUT POLICIES,
CONSUMERS CAN MAKE BETTER
DECISIONS AT THE SUPERMARKET.
AND UNLESS WE REALLY SEE THAT
FULL PICTURE, WE'RE ACTUALLY NOT
GOING TO GET TO WHERE WE GO, AS
ALEXANDER HAD ALLUDED. SO WHEN
WE LOOK AT ISSUES LIKE MASS-
MIGRATION, CLIMATE CHANGE,
SKYROCKETING HEALTHCARE COSTS,
ALL OF THESE ARE VERY COMPLEX.
THERE ARE MANY INTERDEPENDENCIES
IN THAT SYSTEM AND WITHOUT
UNDERSTANDING THAT SYSTEM, WE'RE
NOT GONNA BE ABLE TO MAKE GOOD
DECISIONS AND UNDERSTAND THE
TRADE-OFFS AND HOW WE REALLY GET
TO A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE.

Steve says ARE YOU SUGGESTING,
ALEXANDER, THAT IF WE WERE TO
PUT ALL THOSE EXTERNALITIES
YOU CALLED THEM, INTO THE COST
OF THE HAMBURGER, THAT HAMBURGER
IS CLEARLY NOT TWO AND A HALF
BUCKS ANYMORE, IT IS WHAT?

The caption changes to "Alexander Müller. German Council for Sustainable Development."

Alexander says FIRST WE
WOULD LIKE TO RECOGNIZE THERE
ARE HIDDEN COSTS, ALL THE COSTS
RUTH MENTIONED.
AND ALSO OUR FARMERS ARE WORKING
IN AN ECONOMIC ENVIRONMENT WHICH
IS HIGHLY DISTORTED.
A FARMER, WHICH IS A GOOD
STEWARD OF THE SOIL, DOESN'T GET
PAID FOR IT.
A FARMER MINING AND EXTRACTING
THE NUTRIENTS AND DEPLETING THE
LAND GETS THE SAME COSTS FOR HIS
FOOD.
PRODUCING FOOD IS A HIGHLY
COMPLEX ISSUE AND THAT WE ARE
USING NATURAL RESOURCES AND THE
MARKET IS NOT PAYING FOR IT.
NOBODY WANTS TO TRIPLE OR
QUADRUPLE THE PRICE OF FOOD.
BUT POLICY DECISIONS HAVE TO BE
BASED ON THE TRUE COST OF FOOD.
AND AT THE SAME TIME, WE SEE
THAT DIET IS THE HEALTH RISK
NUMBER ONE IN THE WORLD.
SO WE ARE ALREADY PAYING A LOT
FOR CHEAP FOOD.
THE WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION
HAS PUBLISHED A REPORT THAT
DIABETES TYPE 2, YOUNG PEOPLE
GETTING DIABETES BECAUSE OF
MALNUTRITION.
THIS COSTS ANNUALLY
850 BILLION dollars.
SO CHEAP FOOD IS ALREADY VERY,
VERY EXPENSIVE TODAY.

Steve says RIGHT.

Alexander says AND THEREFORE THE WHOLE
SYSTEM IS NOT WORKING, AND IT IS
UNDERMINING THE ABILITY TO FEED
FUTURE GENERATIONS SO TIME TO ACT.

Steve says WHEN WE GO TO THE
SUPERMARKET AND PICK UP THAT
LOAF OF BREAD THERE IS, I'M
ASSUMING, REALLY NO WAY FOR US
TO UNDERSTAND ALL OF THE COMPLEX
EXTERNALITIES THAT GO INTO
MAKING THAT BREAD, RIGHT?
WE CAN'T KNOW THAT, CAN WE?

Ruth says IT IS COMPLEX.
I WOULD ARGUE THAT CONSUMERS
HAVE A RIGHT TO KNOW.

Steve says A RIGHT TO KNOW BUT
DO THEY WANT TO KNOW?

The caption changes to "Ruth Richardson, @futureoffoodorg."

Ruth says I THINK MANY DO.
ESPECIALLY YOUNG GENERATIONS
COMING UP, THEY ARE ASKING FOR A
NEW RELATIONSHIP WITH THE FOOD
THEY EAT AND THE FOOD THEY BUY.
YOU SEE VERY ACTIVE YOUNG KIDS
WANTING A DEEPER CONNECTION WITH
THE FOOD SYSTEM WE HAVE.
THEY WANT TO KNOW WHERE IT'S
FROM, WHO GREW IT, HOW IT'S PRODUCED?

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

Steve says DO YOU REALLY KNOW THAT?
I APPRECIATE THEY HAVE A
DIFFERENT RELATIONSHIP WITH FOOD
BECAUSE THEY TAKE PICTURES OF
EVERYTHING THEY EAT AND PUT IT
UP ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
DOES THAT MEAN THEY WANT TO KNOW
ALL THE EXTERNALITIES OF WHAT
GOES INTO THE CREATION OF THAT
FOOD?

Ruth says YES, I BELIEVE THEY DO AND
THEY SHOULD BE ABLE TO.
THERE IS A TRANSPARENCY QUESTION
HERE.
I THINK THAT PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW
WHAT THOSE COSTS ARE.
I ACTUALLY DON'T THINK IT'S THAT
DIFFICULT.
I THINK IF WE INTEND TO PROVIDE
TRANSPARENCY AND INFORMATION, WE
CAN DO THAT.
YOU LOOK AT TOBACCO LABELING,
FOR INSTANCE.
IT'S ABOUT INTENTION.
AND IF GOVERNMENTS AND COMPANIES
WANT TO DO IT, THEY CAN DO IT.
AND I THINK THE PEOPLE WILL
REALLY APPRECIATE THAT AND
BENEFIT FROM IT.

Steve says CAN I UNDERSTAND
WHAT THAT MEANS FROM THE GROUND
LEVEL.
IF YOU GO IN AND BUY THAT
PROVERBIAL LOAF OF BREAD, ARE
YOU SUGGESTING THERE SHOULD BE A
LABEL ON IT INDICATING ALL THE
COSTS IN ADDITION TO THAT WE
DON'T NOW SEE?

Ruth says I THINK THERE ARE EXAMPLES OF
THE WAY DIFFERENT COMPANIES AND
COUNTRIES HAVE COME AT THIS
AROUND THE GLOBE.
I THINK IT'S A BIT
CONTEXT-SPECIFIC.
I THINK THERE ARE DIFFERENT WAYS
TO DO IT.
THERE ARE CERTIFICATION SCHEMES,
LABELING SCHEMES, A WHOLE BUNCH
OF OPTIONS.

Alexander says DON'T
FORGET, WE ARE LIVING IN A
DIGITAL SOCIETY SO YOU DON'T
HAVE TO PUT A LABEL ON IT.
USE YOUR SMARTPHONE AND YOU CAN
GET ALL THE INFORMATION.
AND THEREFORE WHY AREN'T WE
USING IT?
AND WHY AREN'T WE USING IT FOR
IDENTIFYING FOR WHICH GOVERNMENT
SUBSIDIES FOR AGRICULTURE REALLY
WILL BE SPENT?
THERE'S AN ESTIMATE THAT
ANNUALLY 500 BILLION U.S. dollars ARE
SPENT ON SUBSIDIES FOR
AGRICULTURE.
DO WE REALLY KNOW IF THEY GO
INTO FOOD SECURITY AND ENSURING
THAT THE PLANET WILL STAY
HEALTHY, OR ARE THEY SUBSIDIZING
FARMING PRACTICES WHICH DEPLETE
LAND AND SOILS AND POLLUTE
WATER?
AND THEREFORE WE HAVE TO CHANGE
THE PERSPECTIVE.
THERE'S A LOT OF FEATURES TO BE
DISCUSSED.
BUT FIRST OF ALL WE HAVE TO
CHANGE THE MIND SET.
AGRICULTURE IS AN INDUSTRY BASED
ON NATURAL RESOURCES, AND IF WE
DEPLETE THE NATURAL RESOURCES,
THEY WILL BE GONE.
AND THEREFORE, WE HAVE TO CLOSE
THE CYCLE AND WE HAVE TO LOOK AT
ALL THE POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE
EXTERNALITIES.

Steve says WAS THERE A TIME WE
ACTUALLY PAID THE REAL
PRICE-COST OF FOOD?

Alexander says I DON'T THINK SO.
I DON'T THINK SO.
BUT WHAT HAS CHANGED IS THE
PRESSURE ON OUR PLANET HAS
INCREASED, AND THIS REQUIRES
BOLD ACTION.
I WOULD LIKE TO REPEAT AGAIN
THERE ARE ALSO POSSIBLE
EXTERNALITIES.
MANY FARMERS ARE STEWARDS OF
BIODIVERSITY.
WE NEED GENETIC DIVERSITY TO
ADAPT TO A CHANGING CLIMATE.
THEY DON'T GET PAID FOR IT.
MANY FARMERS ARE DESTROYING
BIODIVERSITY.
THEY GET THE SAME PRICE.
AND THEREFORE IN ORDER TO SECURE
THE FUTURE, WE ARE FORCED TO ACT
IN A DIFFERENT WAY.
AND FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE,
LOOKING AT THE EXTERNALITIES,
POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE, COULD BE
ONE WAY TO ENSURE THAT WE CHANGE
THE PERCEPTION OF THE FOOD SYSTEM.

Steve says RUTH, THERE IS A
REPORT OUT CALLED "AGAINST CHEAP
FOOD," DONE FOR YOUR
ORGANIZATION, AND IN THAT REPORT
WE LEARN THE FOLLOWING. SHELDON,
BRING THIS UP, IF YOU WOULD?

A quote appears on screen, under the title "A very high number." The quote reads "Duncan Pollard, Nestlé's Assistant Vice President for Stakeholder Engagement in Sustainability, reported in 2015 that the world's biggest food company had done its own internal audit of the true environmental and social costs of its business. The number was high. So high that releasing it to the public would result in the company being 'crucified.'"
Quoted from Raj Patel, Against Cheap Food. February 21, 2017.

Steve says IF THESE EXTERNAL
COSTS, RUTH, ARE SO HIGH THAT
COMPANIES ARE TERRIFIED TO LET
THE PUBLIC KNOW HOW HIGH, HOW DO
WE INCORPORATE THE COSTS OF ALL
OF THESE EXTERNALITIES INTO THE
PRICE WE PAY FOR FOOD?

The caption changes to "Hard truths."

Ruth says LET'S NOT
BE DELUDED IT'S GOING TO BE EASY.
IT'S A HUGE CHALLENGE.
WHEN DUNCAN SAID THAT IN 2015,
NESTLE HAS DONE 12 OR MORE
IMPACTS ON THE EXTERNALITIES OR
IMPACTS ON THEIR BUSINESS.
THEY ARE DOING IT.
OTHER COMPANIES ARE DOING IT.
FARMERS ARE PICKING IT UP.
GOVERNMENTS ARE PICKING IT UP.
SO I THINK ALL THESE
ORGANIZATIONS ARE RECOGNIZING
THAT WE HAVE TO DO IT, BECAUSE
AS OUR CENTRE SAYS, THEIR
BUSINESSES ARE SO DEPENDENT ON
THE RAW MATERIALS AROUND THEM,
ON LOCAL ECONOMIES, ETC.
SO THEY NEED TO DO IT.
AND THEY'RE FIGURING OUT HOW TO
DO IT.
THERE'S A GROWING COMMUNITY OF
PRACTITIONERS AND ACADEMICS AND
FARMERS AND BUSINESSES THAT ARE
FIGURING OUT THE PRACTICE AND
THE THEORY OF TRUE-COST
ACCOUNTING, AND THEY'RE STARTING
TO COME UP WITH SOME REALLY
INTERESTING RESULTS THAT IS
SHAPING DECISION-MAKING.

Steve says DOES IT INEVITABLY
MEAN WE SHOULD BE PAYING MORE
FOR THE PRICE OF FOOD?

Ruth says WHAT I WOULD SAY... I THINK
THIS IS ALMOST THE NUMBER ONE
MYTH WE NEED TO DISPEL, BECAUSE
PEOPLE SAY, OKAY, YOU'RE MAKING,
YOU KNOW, CHEAP FOOD MORE
EXPENSIVE.
HOW ARE POOR PEOPLE GOING TO
AFFORD IT?
FIRST OF ALL, I THINK THAT THE
WHOLE POVERTY QUESTION IS ABOUT
POVERTY.
IT'S NOT ABOUT THE PRICE OF
FOOD.
WE NEED TO DEAL WITH POVERTY AT
ITS ROOT.

Steve says AND CRAPPY FOOD
MAKES POOR PEOPLE EVEN WORSE OFF.

Ruth says PRECISELY.
THAT'S A SECOND THING THAT,
REALLY, IT'S NOT ABOUT MAKING,
YOU KNOW, CHEAP, UNHEALTHY,
HIGHLY PROCESSED FOOD MORE
EXPENSIVE, IT'S ABOUT CHANGING
THE PRICE SIGNALS.
SO AS A CANADIAN TAXPAYER, I
GIVE TAXES TO THE GOVERNMENT.
THE GOVERNMENT MAKES DECISIONS
ABOUT WHERE TO DIRECT SUBSIDIES.
AND WE HAVE A CHOICE.
DO WE WANT THOSE DIRECTED TO
HIGHLY PROCESSED FOOD OR DO WE
WANT THOSE DIRECTED TO A HEALTHY
SYSTEM THAT'S TRULY SUSTAINABLE?

The caption changes to "Alexander Müller, @alexander_tmg."

Alexander says AND,
AGAIN, THE PRICE OF CHEAP FOOD
TODAY IS REALLY VERY, VERY HIGH
IF YOU INCLUDE THE HEALTH COSTS.
AND THIS IS NOT ONLY AN ISSUE IN
DEVELOPED COUNTRIES.
INCREASINGLY, DEVELOPING
COUNTRIES, IF YOU GO TO KENYA,
THE MINISTER FOR HEALTH TELLS
YOU, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO FINANCE
MY HEALTH SYSTEM BECAUSE THE
COST OF OBESITY AND DIABETES 2
ARE HIGH.

Steve says THAT'S NOT A COST
BORNE BY THE BAD COMPANY THAT
MAKES THE FOOD THAT GIVES PEOPLE
DIABETES.
THAT'S A COST INCURRED BY THE
TAXPAYER.
SO HOW DO YOU GET THE COMPANY TO
CARE ABOUT THAT PUBLIC SECTOR COST?

Alexander says WE HAVE TO INCLUDE FOOD AS A SYSTEM.
SO FAR ITS A SILO.
DISTRIBUTING, HEALTH SYSTEM.
WE HAVE TO LOOK AT IT IN A
COMPREHENSIVE WAY.
THEN WE COME TO A COMPLETELY
DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE.
AND THIS PERSPECTIVE HAS TO
CHANGE BEHAVIOUR OF CONSUMERS.
IT ALSO WILL CHANGE THE WAY
COMPANIES ARE ASSESSING THEIR
ASSETS.
IT'S BEAUTIFUL THAT... WE CANNOT
PUBLISH THESE FIGURES BECAUSE IT
CREATES A LOT OF PRESSURE ON
CHANGING THE WAY THEY'RE DOING
BUSINESS.
THEY HAVE RECOGNIZED THAT IF
THEY WANT TO SELL MILK IN THE
NEXT 25 YEARS, THEY HAVE TO
CHANGE THE WAY MILK IS PRODUCED.
OTHERWISE, THEY DON'T HAVE THE
RAW MATERIAL AND THEY CANNOT
MAKE ANY PROFIT.

Steve says FORGIVE ME, RUTH,
FOR SOUNDING THICK HERE, BUT I
REALLY NEED TO GET A HANDLE ON
THIS.
IS ONE OF THE OPTIONS YOU'RE
SUGGESTING GOING TO, SAY, ONE OF
THOSE, YOU KNOW, PROCESSED FOOD
COMPANIES THAT MAKES FOOD THAT
TASTES FANTASTIC BUT IS
ABSOLUTELY TERRIBLE FOR YOU AND
WILL GIVE YOU DIABETES IF YOU
EAT IT TOO MUCH SAYING, YOU KNOW
WHAT?
YOU'RE... I SHOULDN'T PICK A
BRAND NAME HERE, SO I WON'T.
YOUR JUNK FOOD MAY BE REALLY
SUPER CHEAP WHEN PEOPLE BUY IT
AT THE SUPERMARKET, BUT IT'S
COSTING US BILLIONS IN HEALTH
CARE.

Ruth says YEAH.

Steve says SO WE ARE GOING TO
FORCE YOU TO CHARGE THREE TIMES
MORE FOR THAT BECAUSE WE NEED TO
TAKE INTO ACCOUNT WHAT YOU COST
OUR HEALTH CARE SYSTEM.
CAN THAT BE DONE?

Ruth says I THINK IT CAN BE DONE.
I THINK IT'S SLIGHTLY MORE
COMPLEX ABOUT THAT...

Steve says I TOLD YOU I WAS A
LITTLE THICK ON IT.
HELP ME OUT ON IT.

Ruth says IT'S NOT JUST ABOUT FORCING
COMPANIES TO DO THAT.
THERE IS A REGULATORY REGIME
THAT CAN DO THAT.
THERE ARE POLICIES THAT CAN DO
THAT.
BUT I THINK IT'S ALSO, AS
ALEXANDER HAS MENTIONED, IN A
COMPANY'S BEST INTEREST TO
GRAPPLE WITH THIS.
AS HE SAYS, WE'RE NOT GOING TO
HAVE A PLANET TO FARM IF WE
DON'T TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THESE
EXTERNAL COSTS.
SO I THINK WE'RE SEEING THAT
MORE AND MORE WHERE FARMERS AND
COMPANIES ARE MOTIVATED
THEMSELVES TO CHANGE BEHAVIOUR
AND THROUGH A FRAMEWORK LIKE
TEEB AGRIFOOD, THEY HAVE THE
CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK TO
UNDERSTAND THOSE COSTS, TO
UNDERSTAND THE TRADE-OFFS, AND
AGAIN, TO MAKE BETTER DECISIONS.

Alexander says LET ME
TRY TO ADDRESS IT FROM A
DIFFERENT WAY.
WHAT IS THE ADVANTAGE OF HAVING
TONNES OF SUGARY, CHEAP DRINKS
WHICH MAKE PEOPLE SICK?
YOU SEE, MORE AND MORE CITIES
ARE NOW TRYING TO PUT A TAX ON
SUGAR.

Steve says YES.

Alexander says BECAUSE THEY KNOW THAT IF WE
CONTINUE TO PRODUCE CHEAP SUGAR,
PEOPLE DRINK A LOT OF THESE
CHEAP SOFT DRINKS, AND THEY HAVE
HEALTH PROBLEMS.
THIS IS A WAY WHERE SOCIETY
CANNOT DEAL WITH IT, AND
THEREFORE, THE PRICE SIGNALS ARE
WRONG AND PUTTING A LITTLE TAX
ON SUGAR IS THE FIRST ATTEMPT TO
CHANGE IT.
AND OUR STUDY WILL UNDERPIN
THIS.
BUT IF YOU GO BEYOND, BECAUSE WE
HAVE TO LOOK AT THE SYSTEM AS A
WHOLE AND TRY TO IDENTIFY, DO WE
SET THE RIGHT INCENTIVES OR DO
WE SET THE WRONG...

Steve says I HEAR YOU.
I DON'T WANT TO GET TOO FAR OFF
THE PATH, THOUGH.
IT'S REALLY PROBLEMATIC WHEN
GOVERNMENT, AS YOU WANT IT TO,
SENDS THE SIGNALS THAT, OKAY,
YOU WANT TO SELL THIS CHEAP SODA
POP THAT GETS PEOPLE MORBIDLY
OBESE AND SICK AND DIABETES AND
SO ON, WE'RE GOING TO PUT A TAX
ON SODA POP, BUT NOT FRUIT
JUICES WHICH HAVE JUST AS MUCH
SUGAR AND CAN BE PROBLEMATIC.

A caption reads "On the policy front."

Alexander says THAT IS THE VALUE OF OUR
STUDY. WE'RE LOOKING AT ALL
EXTERNALITIES.
WHATEVER.
WE WANT TO LOOK AT THE TRUE COST
OF ALL FOOD AND THEREFORE
PROVIDE A BASIS FOR A RATIONAL
DECISION-MAKING.

Steve says HERE'S ANOTHER QUOTE
FROM THAT "AGAINST CHEAP FOOD."
REPORT THAT YOU GUYS GOT.
HERE'S THE QUOTE FROM RAJ PATEL,
THE AUTHOR...

Another quote appears on screen, under the title "Environmental cost." The quote reads "There's no business model where the food industry produces cheap food without destroying the environment."

Steve says THAT'S PRETTY STARK.
YOU REALLY BELIEVE THAT?

Ruth says WELL, I
THINK THAT BASED ON THE STUDY
AND SOME OF THE EARLY FINDINGS
OF APPLYING THE TEEB
AGRIFRAMEWORK TO VARIOUS
SYSTEMS, WHETHER THEY BE ORGANIC
SYSTEMS OR CONVENTIONAL SYSTEMS,
THAT YOU DO FIND THAT, YES.

The caption changes to "Connect with us: @theagenda, TVO.org, Facebook, YouTube, Periscope, Instagram."

Alexander says UP TO 50 percent
OF AGRICULTURAL LAND GLOBALLY IS
DEPLETED.
MORE OR LESS DEPLETED.
BUT WE HAVE A PROBLEM WITH SOIL
NUTRIENTS.
AND WE KNOW THAT WITHIN THE NEXT
20 TO 30 YEARS, PRODUCTIVITY
WILL DECREASE, AND THEREFORE,
BUSINESS AS USUAL IS NOT AN
OPTION.

Steve says HOW HOPEFUL ARE YOU
THAT THERE IS ACTUALLY OUT THERE
A SOLUTION TO ANY OF THIS?

Alexander says OF COURSE WE ARE OPTIMISTIC
BECAUSE EATING GOOD FOOD IS ALSO
SOMETHING WHICH IS RELATED TO
OUR CULTURE, TO HUMAN
WELL-BEING, AND WE SHOULD NOT
LOOK ONLY AT THE COSTS BUT ALSO
ALL THE BENEFITS.
IF A CHILD IS RAISED WITH GOOD
FOOD, THE POTENTIAL IS GROWING,
AND THEREFORE, LET'S ALSO LOOK
AT THE BENEFITS OF GOOD FOOD.
LET'S LOOK AT THE CULTURAL
ISSUES.
FAMILIES HAVING A MEAL TOGETHER.
THEY ARE BETTER OFF THAN
FAMILIES EATING JUNK FOOD HERE
AND THERE.
THEREFORE, OF COURSE, WE ARE
LOOKING AT THE COSTS.
BUT DON'T FORGET, THE SOCIETY
TODAY IS PAYING A VERY HIGH
PRICE FOR THE CURRENT FOOD
SYSTEM, AND WE WANT TO CHANGE IT
SO THAT SOCIETY GAINS OVERALL.

Steve says HOW OPEN IS CANADA
TO ANY OF THESE CHANGES?

The caption changes to "Here at home."

Ruth says SO I THINK
CANADA HAS BEEN QUITE OPEN ON
THE ENVIRONMENTAL SIDE.
WE'VE GOT THE ECO FISCAL SYSTEM,
THE SUSTAINABLE PROSPERITY
INITIATIVE, WE LOOKED AT CARBON
PRICING.
SO IN TERMS OF LOOKING AT
EXTERNALITIES AND TRUE COSTS, I
WOULD SAY THERE'S A GROWING BODY
OF INTEREST ON THE ENVIRONMENTAL
SIDE.
ON THE FOOD AND AGRICULTURE
SIDE, IT'S STILL QUITE NEW AND
UNTRIED.
THERE ARE PROGRAMS FOR INSTANCE
LIKE THE ALTERNATIVE LAND USE
PROGRAM, BUT IT IS VERY NEW.
THERE IS HUGE POTENTIAL, THOUGH.
WHEN WE LOOK AT CANADA'S
INTEREST IN DEVELOPING A
NATIONAL FOOD POLICY OR IN
REVISING THE AGRICULTURAL
FRAMEWORK, FARM BILL... SORRY,
FARM PLAN PROGRAM, THIS STUDY,
TEEB AGRIFOOD CAN BE INCREDIBLY
POWERFUL TO HELP GUIDE THOSE
POLICIES.
WHEN WE TAKE IT TO THE GLOBAL
LEVEL, WE, AS A COUNTRY, INTO HE
HAD TO FIGURE OUT HOW WE'RE
GOING TO IMPLEMENT THE
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT GOALS.
WE ALSO HAVE TO FIGURE OUT HOW
WE'RE GOING TO ACHIEVE THE PARIS
AGREEMENT TARGETS.
AGAIN, THESE ARE BIG DECISIONS
WE'RE GOING TO NEED TO MAKE AS A
COUNTRY AND WE'RE GOING TO NEED
TO UNDERSTAND THE
INTERRELATIONSHIPS OF THE
VARIOUS SYSTEMS WE HAVE, ENERGY
SYSTEMS, AGRICULTURAL SYSTEMS,
HEALTH SYSTEMS, AND USE
FRAMEWORKS LIKE THIS TO REALLY
HELP US MAKE THE WISEST
DECISIONS POSSIBLE.

Steve says I'M SORRY, BUT THIS
SOUNDS JUST WAY TOO DAUNTING.
WAY TOO DAUNTING.
DO YOU THINK WE CAN FIGURE THIS OUT?

Ruth says I THINK WE CAN.
I DON'T THINK WE CAN SAY IT'S
TOO DAUNTING SO LET'S NOT DO IT.
I THINK WE HAVE TO TRY.
HUMAN BEINGS HAVE DONE AMAZING
THINGS IN THE PAST AND THEY CAN
DO IT AGAIN.

Alexander says AN EXAMPLE.
FOOD WASTE.
WE KNOW THAT ONE-THIRD OF ALL
FOOD IS WASTED.
MAYBE IN CANADA EVEN MORE.
WE KNOW IT AMOUNTS TO
1.3 BILLION TONNES EVERY YEAR.
IF YOU WOULD TAKE FOOD WASTE AS
A COUNTRY, IT IS THE THIRD
BIGGEST EMITTER OF GREENHOUSE
GASES AFTER CHINA AND THE UNITED
STATES.
THIS IS A CRAZY SYSTEM USING
ONE-THIRD OF ALL LAND TO PRODUCE
FOOD WASTE TO BE THE THIRD
BIGGEST EMITTER OF GREENHOUSE
GAS EMISSIONS IN THE WORLD.
SO WE HAVE TO CHANGE THE SYSTEM.
YES, IT'S DAUNTING.
BUT CLOSING YOUR EYES IS NOT A
SOLUTION.

Steve says HOW DOES ALL OF THIS
FIT IN WITH THE FACT THAT I
THINK THE AMOUNT OF FARMLAND WE
HAVE IN THIS WORLD, THE AMOUNT
OF ARABLE FARMLAND, IS
SHRINKING.
HOW DO WE FIGURE THIS OUT?

Alexander says LET'S START WITH FOOD WASTE.
WE ARE USING ALL THIRD OF LAND,
ONE THIRD OF BIODIVERSITY TO
HAVE FOOD WASTE AND THROW IT
AWAY AND CREATE NEGATIVE EFFECTS
ON CLIMATE.
THERE ARE OTHER ACTIONS WE HAVE
TO DO.
WE ALSO HAVE TO INCREASE
PRODUCTIVITY BUT IN A
SUSTAINABLE WAY, LONG-TERM
SUSTAINABLE.
LOOK AT THE SIGNIFICANCE OF...
REPORTS ARE TELLING US HOW WE
ARE LOSING INSECTS.
THEY ARE ABSOLUTELY NEEDED TO
KEEP OUR ENVIRONMENT INTACT AND
TO PROVIDE FOOD.
SO THE WAY, BUSINESS AS USUAL,
IS A WAY INTO BIG, BIG PROBLEMS.
SO LET'S STOP IT AND LET'S
CREATE ANOTHER ENVIRONMENT, AND
I THINK THAT LOOKING AT THE COST
OF FOOD IS ONE OF THE OPTIONS
THAT COULD REDIRECT CONSUMER
BEHAVIOUR AND POLICIES AND COULD
CREATE NEW OPTIONS FOR
BUSINESSES.

Steve says LET ME GET YOU TO
FOLLOW UP ON THIS, ALEXANDER.
NEW SCIENTIST MAGAZINE JUST HAD
AN ARTICLE OUT AND THE HEADLINE
WAS, "STOP BUYING ORGANIC FOOD
IF YOU REALLY WANT TO SAVE THE PLANET."

A screenshot from the New Scientist website pops up with the article.

Steve continues NOW, THAT IS COMPLETELY CONTRARY
TO EVERYTHING THAT WE HAVE BEEN
TAUGHT UP UNTIL NOW, WHICH IS
THAT ORGANIC FOOD IS THE WAY TO
GO.
WHERE ARE YOU ON THE QUOTE,
UNQUOTE, "TRUE COST" OF ORGANIC FOOD?

The caption changes to "Organic issues."

Alexander says FIRST OF ALL, OUR FRAMEWORK
HAS TO BE APPLIED TO ALL TYPES
OF PRODUCTION, ORGANIC,
NON-ORGANIC, INDUSTRIAL,
NON-INDUSTRIAL, BECAUSE WE WANT
TO KNOW THE TRUE COST OF FOOD.
I KNOW THIS ARTICLE IS FOCUSING
AT YIELDS PER HECTARE, AND OF
COURSE THE YIELD PER HECTARE OF
NON-ORGANIC IS HIGHER.
BUT WE PAY A VERY HIGH PRICE FOR IT.
AND THEREFORE WE WANT TO KNOW,
WHAT IS THE TRUE COST OF
INDUSTRIAL FOOD, OF ORGANIC
FOOD, AND WE ALSO BELIEVE THIS
WOULD CREATE NEW RESEARCH AND IT
WILL IMPROVE OUR FOOD SYSTEMS.
THEREFORE, IF YOU LOOK AT YIELDS
ONLY, THIS IS MISLEADING.

Steve says HAVE YOU GOT A VIEW
ON THIS HEADLINE?

Ruth says YES, I ABSOLUTELY AGREE.
AND I THINK THE YIELD PER
HECTARE, WE IN THE PAST HAVE
LOOKED FOR SILVER BULLETS.
THE GREEN REVOLUTION IN INDIA
PARTICULARLY, YOU KNOW, WE'VE
GOT TO FEED A VERY HUNGRY
CONTINENT.
SO LET'S JUST GROW MORE FOOD.
BUT THE PROBLEM WITH THAT WAS
THAT IT IGNORED ALL THE OTHER
FACTORS THAT WE ALSO NEED TO
TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION.
SO IT WASN'T LOOKING AT EQUITY.
IT WASN'T LOOKING AT LOCAL
ECONOMIES.
IT WASN'T LOOKING AT HEALTH
IMPACTS OF THAT SYSTEM.
SO WE HAVE TO TAKE A SYSTEMIC
VIEW.
AND WITH THAT SYSTEMIC VIEW, WE
NEED TO SCRUTINIZE ALL SYSTEMS:
ORGANIC SYSTEMS, LOCAL SYSTEMS,
BIG CONVENTIONAL SYSTEMS.
AND THROUGH THAT, WE WILL BE
MORE INFORMED, AND I THINK WE
WILL BE LED INTO A VERY
DIFFERENT FORM OF AGRICULTURE IN
THE FUTURE.

Steve says ALEXANDER, I JUST
WANT TO CIRCLE BACK FOR A SECOND
TO THE WASTE THAT YOU REFERRED
TO A MOMENT AGO.
HOW IS IT POSSIBLE IN THIS DAY
AND AGE THAT WE STILL THROW OUT
SO MUCH FOOD, PARTICULARLY WHEN
THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE AROUND
THE WORLD WHO ARE SO DESPERATE TO BE FED?

The caption changes to "tvo.org/theagenda."

Alexander says THERE ARE
TWO REASONS FOR IT.
IN THE DEVELOPING COUNTRIES,
THERE IS NO PROCESSING, THERE IS
NO STORAGE SYSTEM.
YOU HAVE A LOT OF POST AND
PRE-HARVEST PROCESSES.
YOU HAVE TO INVEST A LOT IN
ORDER TO BRING THE CROPS INTO
THE PEOPLE'S HOME.
AND HERE IN OUR SOCIETY, FOOD IS
INCREDIBLY CHEAP.
BUY IT, THROW IT AWAY.
IF YOU GO TO A SUPERMARKET, YOU
BUY FOR 90 dollars FOOD, AND ON THE WAY
HOME, YOU ARE LOSING ONE-THIRD
FOR 30 dollars.
IT DOESN'T MATTER BECAUSE
ONE-THIRD IS FOOD WASTE.
SO THE WHOLE SYSTEM HAS A
PROBLEM AND IS VERY MUCH LINKED
TO CHEAP FOOD.

Steve says DOES THAT REFER AS
WELL TO THE FOOD THAT ALL OF US
HAVE AT RESTAURANTS AND DON'T
FINISH, LEAVE ON OUR PLATE, ENDS
UP GETTING THROWN OUT?

Ruth says ABSOLUTELY.
AND IN THE GLOBAL NORTH, THAT IS
THE ISSUE.
IT'S INDIVIDUALS WASTING FOOD IN
THEIR REFRIGERATOR, AT THE
RESTAURANT.
IT'S VERY MUCH AN INDIVIDUAL
PROBLEM.
AS ALEXANDER SAYS, IN THE GLOBAL
SOUTH, IT'S VERY DIFFERENT.
POTHOLES IN THE ROAD AND THE
TRUCK GETS STUCK AND THE LOAD OF
BANANAS HAS TO BE THROWN OFF
INTO THE DITCH.

Steve says RIGHT.
LET'S DO ONE MORE EXCERPT HERE
FROM THIS UNRAVELING THE FOOD
HEALTH NEXUS THAT I REFERRED TO
JUST A FEW MOMENTS AGO.
SHELDON, I'M ON THE TOP OF PAGE
5 HERE. THERE YOU GO.

A quote appears on screen, under the title "Urgent." The quote reads "An urgent case for reforming food and farming systems can be made on the grounds of protecting human health. Many of the most severe health impacts of food systems trace back to some of the core industrial food and farming practices, e.g., chemical-intensive agriculture; intensive livestock production; the mass production and mass marketing of ultra-processed foods; and the development of long and deregulated global commodity supply chains."
Quoted from IPES Food, "Unravelling the food-health nexus." October 2017.

Steve says RUTH, TO YOU ON THIS.
THE ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVIST AND
NOVELIST WENDELL BARRY, I DON'T
KNOW THIS GUY.
DO YOU KNOW THIS GUY?

Ruth says I KNOW
THIS GUY.

Steve says HE SAID EATING IS AN
ENVIRONMENTAL ACT.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK, HOW DOES
THIS WORK, FIT IN WITH THAT
STATEMENT?

The caption changes to "Eating is an environmental act."

Ruth says EATING BY ITS VERY NATURE HAS
TO BE AN ENVIRONMENTAL ACT
BECAUSE FOOD IS IMPLICITLY THE
ENVIRONMENT: IT'S WATER, IT'S
AIR, IT'S SOIL.
IT IS AN ENVIRONMENTAL ACT.
WHAT I WOULD SAY IS TO GO ONE
STEP FURTHER THAN WENDELL IS TO
SAY IT IS ALSO A POLITICAL ACT.
IN THE FOOD YOU BUY, IN THE
CHOICES YOU MAKE, YOU ARE
SUPPORTING A CERTAIN SYSTEM.
YOU'RE SUPPORTING CERTAIN
POLICIES.
YOU'RE SUPPORTING CERTAIN TYPES
OF PRODUCTION.
YOU'RE SUPPORTING CERTAIN KINDS
OF FARMERS.
NOT EVERYBODY HAS THAT CHOICE.
SO THEY'RE OFF THE HOOK.
BUT MANY OF US DO.

Steve says OKAY.
IF YOU DO HAVE A CHOICE, GIVE US
A DO AND A DON'T.
DO DO THIS; DON'T DO THIS.

Ruth says I'M NOT A BIG FAN OF DOs
AND DON'Ts.
WHAT I AS A MOTHER HAVE TAUGHT
MY CHILDREN IS BE HIGHLY
CONSCIOUS, INFORM YOURSELF, AND
DECIDE WHICH SYSTEM YOU WANT TO
SUPPORT.
I WOULD SAY FROM MY PERSPECTIVE,
WORKING WITH TEEB AGRIFOOD AND
ALEXANDER AND UNDERSTANDING
ISSUES, I PREFERENCE LOCAL FOOD,
I PREFERENCE ORGANIC FOOD, I
PREFERENCE GETTING TO KNOW THE
FARMERS, I PREFERENCE BUYING
SMALL AMOUNTS, PREPARING THEM
ALL AT HOME.
YOU KNOW, THERE ARE A LOT OF
DECISIONS I MAKE, BASED ON THE
INFORMATION I HAVE...

Steve says LOCAL FARMER MARKETS
AS OPPOSED TO...

Ruth says LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS ARE
GREAT AS OPPOSED TO BIG
SUPERMARKETS.
I DON'T BUY HIGHLY PROCESSED
FOOD.
COOK FROM SCRATCH.
DECISIONS WE CAN MAKE AS
INDIVIDUALS.
THEY ARE IMPORTANT BECAUSE
THEY'RE ULTIMATELY POLITICAL
DECISIONS.

Steve says ANYTHING YOU WANT TO
ADD TO THAT LIST OF DOs AND DON'Ts?

Alexander says ENJOY YOUR FOOD.
THERE'S SOMETHING BEAUTIFUL
SITTING WITH PEOPLE AT THE TABLE
HAVING GOOD FOOD, HAVING A GOOD
GLASS OF WINE, HAVING A GOOD
CONVERSATION.
IT IS A CULTURAL ISSUE.
WE ARE FORGETTING FOOD IS
EVERYBODY... EVERYBODY IS EATING
ON THE STREET, NOT GOOD FOOD.
SO WE ARE LOSING A LOT OF
QUALITY OF OUR LIFE IF WE DON'T
ENJOY FOOD.
BUT THIS HAS TO BE LINKED TO A
WAY THAT WE WILL BE ABLE TO
PRODUCE FOOD ALSO TOMORROW AND
THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW AND I
THINK THIS IS THE REAL
CHALLENGE.
WE ARE NOT DOING IT BECAUSE WE
LIKE TO BE ACCOUNTANTS OR TO
MAKE FOOD MUCH MORE EXPENSIVE.
THERE IS A GROWING CONSENSUS
THAT THE CURRENT FOOD SYSTEM IS
NOT ABLE TO FEED THE WORLD IN
THE NEXT 25 TO 30 YEARS, AND WE
HAVE NOT TALKED ABOUT CLIMATE
CHANGE SO FAR.
CLIMATE CHANGE WILL PUT ANOTHER
LAYER OF PRESSURE ON THE FOOD
SYSTEM, AND IF WE DON'T PREPARE
FOR IT, IF WE DON'T HAVE THE
SEEDS TO ADAPT TO CLIMATE
CHANGE, IF WE ARE DESTROYING
BIODIVERSITY, WE WILL NOT BE
ABLE TO ADAPT TO IT, AND THIS IS
THE CHALLENGE.

Steve says I HEAR BOTH THINGS
ON CLIMATE CHANGE, ALEXANDER.
I HEAR SOME PEOPLE SAYING THERE
WILL BE LAND THAT WILL NO LONGER
BE ARABLE FOR FARMING.
I ALSO HEAR THERE WILL BE COLD
CLIMATES WHERE, BECAUSE OF THE
TEMPERATURE RISE, THEY WILL BE
AVAILABLE FOR FARMING IN WAYS
THAT THEY WEREN'T BEFORE.
DO YOU KNOW WHETHER IT BALANCES OUT?

Alexander says WHAT WE KNOW FOR SURE IS THAT
THE CURRENT AMOUNT OF EMISSIONS
WILL LEAD TO AN INCREASE OF
AVERAGE TEMPERATURE IN AFRICA...
SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA BETWEEN 3 degrees
AND 5 degrees CENTIGRADE.
NO ONE HAS AN IDEA OF HOW TO DO
FARMING WHEN THE GLOBAL
TEMPERATURE IS INCREASING.
RAINFALL PATTERNS WILL CHANGE.
CANADA MIGHT BENEFIT FROM A
CHANGING CLIMATE BECAUSE YOU
HAVE LONGER SUMMERS.
DON'T BE TOO SURE.
YOU DON'T KNOW HOW THE RAINFALL
PATTERNS WILL CHANGE.
WE ARE DEALING WITH A LOT OF
UNCERTAINTIES.
WE KNOW THINGS WILL CHANGE.
SOME WILL BENEFIT.
BUT OVERALL, IT WILL BE A MAJOR,
MAJOR CHALLENGE, AND WE DO NOT
REALLY KNOW HOW TO DEAL WITH IT
IF WE CONTINUE BUSINESS AS
USUAL.
AND THAT'S THE CHALLENGE AHEAD OF US.

Steve says LAST 20 SECONDS, RUTH.

Ruth says JUST TO
BUILD ON THAT.
WE HAVE TYPICALLY FOCUSED ON
ENERGY AS OUR WAY OUT OF CLIMATE
CHANGE.
BUT IN FACT THE UNITED STATES
CAME OUT WITH A 2050 STRATEGY
FOR DEEP DECARBONIZATION, AND
GUESS WHERE IT POINTS?
IT POINTS TO LAND USE, FOOD, AND
AGRICULTURE AS BOTH A WAY TO
REDUCE OUR GREENHOUSE GAS
EMISSIONS AND AS A WAY TO DEAL
WITH OTHER POTENTIAL GREENHOUSE
GAS EMISSIONS... SO A PROBLEM
AND A SOLUTION.
SO WE REALLY NEED TO GRAPPLE
WITH THE AGRICULTURAL SYSTEM IF
WE'RE GOING TO MEET THESE
MASSIVE GLOBAL CHALLENGES AS A
GLOBAL COMMUNITY.

The caption changes to "Producer: Gregg Thurlbeck, @GreggThurlbeck."

Steve says I THANK BOTH OF YOU
FOR COMING IN AND SHARING YOUR
VIEWS ON IT TONIGHT HERE ON TVO.
RUTH RICHARDSON, ALEXANDER
MULLER. THANK YOU, MY FRIENDS.

Both guests say THANK YOU.

Watch: Finding the True Cost of Food