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The True Cost of Factory Farming and Industrial Agriculture Does Not Show up at the Supermarket

Important report validates the work of the Rodale Institute.

In a very comprehensive report, Unraveling the Food-Health Nexus: Addressing Practices, Political Economy, and Power Relations to Build Healthier Food Systems, The International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems and The Global Alliance for the Future of Food make the case that the industrial food system is largely to blame for our “staggering” health care costs, including:

– $760 billion yearly cost of obesity (global estimate for 2025)
– $673 billion yearly cost of diabetes (global number for 2012)
– $3.5 trillion global cost of malnutrition
– $557 billion cost of endocrine disruptor exposure (the U.S. and the EU)

The report asserts that “many of the most severe health impacts trace back to some of the core industrial food and farming practices, e.g., chemical-intensive agriculture; intensive livestock production; and the mass production and mass marketing of ultra-processed foods.”

Making changes to this current model will be challenging because of one simple reason: power.

“The industrial food and farming model, which systematically generates negative health impacts, also generates highly unequal power relations. This allows powerful actors including the private sector, governments, donors, and others to set the terms of debate. The prevailing solutions obscure the social and environmental fallout of industrial food systems, leaving the root causes of poor health unaddressed and reinforcing existing social-health inequalities,” the report concludes.

With the connection between how food is produced and the negative health impact on society so strong, the “environmental impacts of organic production (and the implications for long-term productivity) are being increasingly documented, and form part of the growing evidence base on alternative systems.”

Yet, what might be the most interesting part of the entire report was when it said that “compositional differences have regularly been found between organic and conventionally produced items, but long-term cohort studies showing these differences translating into human health benefits are still lacking.”

And this is exactly what the Rodale Institute is attempting to document, as I wrote about last month.

Rodale Institute is trying to close the circle and make the empirical case that regenerative organic agriculture — through its superior soil health — has a direct positive impact on the health of humans.

When it comes to our day-to-day lives, however, the true price of industrial agriculture is just not accounted for when we are at the supermarket.

Yet, becoming aware of industrial agriculture’s heavy toll on society is a critical first step to bring about change and to encourage the world to embrace organic, regenerative farming.

(Photo above courtesy of Mercy for Animals.)

Have a great day!

Max Goldberg, Founder

This Week's News Items

Weekly News Summaries

First Course

USDA Data: Organic is Experiencing Explosive Growth

New data from the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) 2016 Certified Organic Survey was just released, and it showed sales from U.S. farms and ranches grew by 23% in 2016.


Amazon's Purchase of Whole Foods has not Impacted Grocery Prices....Yet

By David Yanofsky

So far, Amazon's takeover of Whole Foods has not disrupted grocery prices throughout the industry. However, it is very early.

Star Tribune

Target to Open a Dozen Smaller-Format Stores

By Kavita Kumar

Target is in the process of opening up a dozen smaller-format stores across the country, which have more than twice the sales productivity of the company's average store.


Soil Association Releases a Food Trace App

By Alice Pritchard

In the UK, the Soil Association has released an app that can trace your organic food from field to fork.

Second Course
Sustainable Pulse

European Members Refuse to Authorize Glyphosate for Another 10 Years

Very big news! With a 10-year reauthorization for glyphosate having failed, the European Commission (EC) is now set to consider a phase-out or shorter license for the world's most used herbicide.


Glyphosate has been Found in the Urine of Americans at an Alarming Rate

By Alice Park

In a report recently published in JAMA, it was found that people who tested positive for glyphosate, a chemical which causes cancer, grew by 500% over a 20-year period.

Third Course
The New York Times

Hearst Purchases Rodale for an Undisclosed Amount

By Sydney Ember

Rodale, whose titles include Men's Health, Prevention and Organic Life, has been sold to Hearst, ending the family's 75-year control over a very influential health and wellness media property. Rodale Institute is a non-profit entity and has nothing to do with the sale of Rodale.

Progressive Grocer Launches First Set of Products for Uniquely J

By Randy Hofbauer

Uniquely J, a private label of, has released its first 50 products, including organic coffee, organic salsa, organic teriyaki sauce and other household items.

Business Insider

Pipeline Foods announces Farm Profit Program to Spur U.S. Organic Grain Production

Pipeline Foods has launched a Farm Profit Program, which will help farmers increase profitability through organic, regenerative production practices.


Real Estate Leases Have Become a Problem for Amazon

A number of Whole Foods' leases are preventing Amazon from executing specific strategic initiatives, such as installing Amazon lockers.

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This Week's Quick Hits

Quick Hits

* With the wildfires in Northern California having ravaged many communities, wineries and organic farms, the slogan “The love in the air is thicker than the smoke” is taking hold on both social media and throughout the region.

* Two action items this week. Please ask your representative to support organic in the next Farm Bill and tell the EPA to stop poisoning our kids with the super-toxic chlorpyrifos.

* On Living Maxwell, I reviewed Fully Alive, the fantastic book by Runa’s Tyler Gage.

* Politico reported that Nestle has quit the Grocery Manufacturers Association (GMA), partially because of GMA’s aggressive stance against GMO-labeling. Nestle’s departure follows that of Campbell, which quit the GMA in July.

* Congrats to Representative Chellie Pingree (D-ME) for receiving one of the Leadership Awards from the James Beard Foundation on Monday night in New York City. Representative Pingree has been one of the organic industry’s most important advocates in Washington, D.C.

* I’ll be hitting the road next week to cover some important events. On Monday, I will be heading to Jacksonville to attend the National Organic Standards Board meeting, where the vote on hydroponics in organic is expected to take place. I plan on filming the Keep the Soil in Organic rally, which will occur on Tuesday around 12:30pm EST, on Facebook Live.

* I’ll be in Los Angeles for Summit LA17 (not related to organic) and then on that following Monday, I’ll be heading to Boulder to attend the Regenerative Earth Summit.

* To watch my “live” coverage of everything, be sure to follow me on Instagram Stories and Facebook Live.

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