As the owner of the company and the co-founder with my wife Miranda, I handle all cancellations we receive from our members. It gives me a chance to say goodbye as people leave our food family, and keeps me closely connected to the reasons why people are choosing to leave us. Lately, I have seen several families choosing the cancel their membership due to our prices.
I completely understand that people have to make hard choices about their budgets, what they can afford, and that events happen in lives that force us to change the buying decisions that we make. But I really wanted to take the time this week to explain some of the reasons why food from The Organic Box costs more than food from Big Box Stores. The bottom line is that we sell different food that the Big Box Stores and how we have organized our business reflects our commitment to the true economics of the food industry.
The Lexicon of Sustainability, a project dedicated to educating consumers about key concepts in the sustainable food movement, has created an excellent short video that outlines and captures the thinking in our industry about the true cost of food. It is called 'True Cost Accounting', and you can click below to watch it, or navigate to the PBS Website Directly.
In True Cost Accounting, there are three major categories and I've taken a few paragraphs to describe how The Organic Box factors these into our business and our practices.
Cheap food is subsidized by low wages and harmful farming practices. Farm and food workers who produce cheap food are not paid a living wage and not given basic benefits such as health insurance. This means they must rely on the emergency health systems in the various countries around the world, including Canada, for healthcare and support. This is subsidized by the taxes we pay.
As I grow older, I see more and more parents of friends dying of the most horrible and unexplained diseases imaginable. I cannot draw a direct link between these illnesses and the chemicals they were exposed to as farmers, but common sense tells me an important story. Cheap food is paid for by the mass use of poisons - either to kill pests, weeds or artificially feed crops. These poisons cannot help but be absorbed by the people working on those farms and ultimately we all pay the price for the long-term health problems that result.
By choosing Organic, The Organic Box is embracing a production system that does not use these poisons. Farm workers are safe working on the farms, and food handlers in the supply chain are safe working with and processing the food we deliver to you. However, organic production is more labour intensive than conventional, plus the lack of artificial preservatives makes the shelf-life of some items shorter, and this is reflected in the true price you pay.
A living wage means people who work hard can support themselves and their families. Working for a sustainable company should include an investment in your life - strong wages, good benefits and access to long term savings support. The Organic Box starts all workers are a rate of pay higher than the generally accepted living wage in Alberta of $15.00 per hour. We also offer group health insurance that provides important coverage for dental, extended care and mental health services. Our team members have access to subsidized transit passes and in 2014 we are starting a group RRSP to help them begin the process of planning for the future.
Miranda and I believe very strongly that our team should be paid enough to live without support, should be able to lean on us when they get sick, and should be building a career that includes financial planning for the future. Workers who are paid minimum wage are forced to rely on social supports which are ultimately funded by taxes. Cheap food is paid for by cheap labour, and our society must fill the gap that the low wages and no benefits create.
Our business was founded and continues to be operated from the first principles of sustainability.
Our choice to embrace Organic food is not just a health choice, it is also an environmental choice. Organic production methods prohibit the use of the chemical fertilizers, antibiotics, pesticides and herbicides that are polluting our waters and destroying our soil.
In our own business and on our own farm, we are committed to operating as a carbon-neutral organization, by making choices about our practices to minimize carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, and then carefully and systematically measuring and offsetting the rest.
We choose sustainability across the entire supply chain, from farm, to processor, to warehouse, to you. The real costs of this choice are reflected in the prices we charge and the sustainability fund we collect. Our food family truly is a family committed to sustainable food, sustainable business and True Cost Accounting for food.
At The Organic Box we are always growing, always looking for ways to get better, and always trying to find ways to fill more of your shopping basket with Alberta and BC food producers. We can do it! You are helping!
Have a Great Week!