Nevada City, CA — Area home gardener Herman M. Dean has been working all summer in his garden and announced to friends and family that he harvested his first tomato. A tomato estimated to cost $7.56 to produce. Mr. Dean has poured a great deal of effort, time, and resources into his garden over the past 4 months.
“Oh, man. I amended the soil and experimented with all kinds of different fertilizers,” said Mr. Dean. “And I’ve had a serious of setbacks, like when that deer fooled me and ate all my tomato plants.”
According to sources close to the Dean family, Mr. Dean has spent close to $600.00 just attending to his garden, much of that on his tomato plants. The high expense came not only from the May destruction by the local deer but also “project creep” and unaccounted for incremental spending.
“I was at nursery every weekend buying this and that,” continued Mr. Dean, “fertilizer, anti-pest soil amendments. And the cost of my tomatoes doesn’t include my labor.”
Supporters of local and organic food movements say this is the price we must pay for high-quality foods, and that “factory” or industrial food production is not only bad for the environment, but it’s also bad for humans because the long supply and demand chains greatly reduce the nutritional quality of our foods. Detractors maintain that the economy of scale provided by mass production is the only way to cost-effectively feed Earth’s growing human population.
“I do this for my family. You know, produce real foods,” said Mr. Dean. “There is no question that these fresher foods are better for us. But there’s no question it’s a lot more expensive. I don’t know how low-income people could do this.”