barbequeThe real cost of cheap food

poor cowsEverybody wants cheap food. But now, many people are worried about the real costs of this. Food is grown and made cheaply because many of the real costs get left out. They are 'externalised': missed out of the cost calculation. Here are some examples:

Would you believe it?

  • Farmers in the world’s top 21 food-producing countries received about $486 billion in public support in 2012. Source: Worldwatch Institute
  • one cow in the rich world gets a subsidy equal to almost twice the annual income of an average Third World farmer. [Source]

And where does that money come from? You! You (or your parents) pay taxes and that's where the subsidies come from.

If the costs of stopping air and water pollution, treating the animals kindly and cleaning up factory farms before they cause pollution were paid as part of the true costs of 'cheap' food, it wouldn't be cheap at all.

For more on factory farms, click the pig image to visit the Food&WaterWatch factory farm facts page.

Visit PETA if you're concerned about the way some people treat animals.

To find out more facts and figures, visit