FoodSIVI contributes to major true cost analysis of the US food system

FoodSIVI Lead Dr Steven Lord is among a team of experts who contributed insights for a report from The Rockefeller Foundation that highlights how the food system is disproportionately failing communities of colour in the US.

True Cost of Food: Measuring What Matters to Transform the U.S. Food System is one of the first true cost analyses of the U.S. food system. The study, published in July, reveals that the ‘hidden’ US food system costs of at least $3.2 trillion per year are three times the amount spent on food. Inequity as a food system risk was also highlighted in recent article from the FoodSIVI team published in the journal Nature Food.

Americans have access to some of the most affordable food in the world, with consumers spending less than 5% of their disposable income on food at home. Despite this, there are huge hidden costs of the US food system, including poor working conditions, health issues and environmental damage. These costs are more likely to be borne by communities of colour, who experience higher rates of diet-related diseases, have more limited access to water and sanitation and, as employees in the food system, contend with low-wage roles.

Dr Steven Lord believes the publication of reports such as the latest study from The Rockefeller Foundation are key to initiating key conversations about the economic transition to a sustainable and health producing food system. “These studies show the large economic costs associated with producing unsustainable and unhealthy food,” he says. “These costs are borne disproportionally by vulnerable or disadvantaged groups.”

Cited as “a wake-up call” by The Rockefeller Foundation, the report highlights how rates of diagnosed diabetes are 1.7 times higher in Latinx Americans and 1.5 times higher in Black Americans than in White Americans. Indigenous Americans are nearly 20% more likely to have reduced access to water and sanitation than White Americans.

Read more and download the full report from The Rockefeller Foundation.