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« Greens massacring the environment (Part 253) | Main | It wasn't me guv! »
Saturday
Jan052008

Food prints

Following on from the previous post, Greenie Watch points us to an article at ICWales which wants us to think about something called food prints.

While buying food produced locally can cut down on carbon emissions used to transport the goods from their country of origin, the benefits may be counteracted by the “food print” of plants grown in greenhouse conditions.

The term is the latest buzzword used to describe the environmental impact of certain types of food production.

But while a carbon footprint refers to the emissions used to transport food across the world, a “food print” describes the amount of land needed to supply a person’s nutritional needs for a year.

So, there is something called the carbon footprint which kind of encapsulates the energy cost and maybe something of the global warming externality. Now there is the food print which sort of encapsulates the land cost. You might say it's all a bit confusing.

But talking about all these different footprints has given me an idea. Let's have a measure which actually encapsulates all the costs associated with production of something. You know - the energy cost, the labour cost, the transport, the raw materials, the taxes, the overheads. Everything. We could even add in the financing cost! That way we've missed nothing and we know that when we assess what the best way of of producing something, we really are working out the most efficient way of making it.

We'll call it "THE PRICE". And hey - if we charge consumers THE PRICE, they'll be incentivised to go for the most efficient, and therefore the most environmentally friendly option! Wow!! I really think I'm on to something here!

Do you think it'll catch on?   

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Reader Comments (5)

That's crazy talk. Why such a scheme couldn't possibly happen without years of analysis and planning by a huge inter governmental panel of experts, and that's never going to happen while Bush and Israel are oppressing the Palestinians.

And how would you deal with different countries having different productivity and labour costs? I suppose you've got some mad scheme where every country had it's own special measure of price.

Honesty, you bloody utopians really get my back up with this sort of pie in the sky thinking.
Jan 8, 2008 at 12:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterJames Barlow
LOL!
Jan 8, 2008 at 8:04 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
"Let's have a measure which actually encapsulates all the costs associated with production of something...We'll call it "THE PRICE"."

I'm sorry, Bishop, but if I was your econ prof I'd have to send you back to the first year and get you to read these:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Externality
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coase_theorem#Criticism
Jan 27, 2008 at 1:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterNathan Rive
We've had this conversation before, Nathan, and you are correct. However the price seems to be a very good approximation to the full cost in the cases I've come across. Can you name examples of cases where externalities are a significant cost?
Jan 29, 2008 at 11:42 AM | Registered CommenterBishop Hill
Hi Bishop, I've done a brief post on the issue back on our blog:
http://inthegreen.typepad.com/blog/2008/02/external-costs.html
Feb 4, 2008 at 12:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterNathan Rive

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