Apple prices might be cheap. But their costs are expensive. One kilogram of conventionally grown apples costs society around $0.21 due to the adverse health effects of pesticides, fungicides, sick days off work and shorter lifespans, according to Dutch organization Soil & More Impacts.
Investors need to consider those costs, said the group, which works with major food companies like Dole, Ritter Sport and others on sustainability. “Current food production systems tolerate massive negative environmental and social impacts,” the group said in a statement on its website. “It will harm more and more society’s willingness to support companies, either on a consumer level or on input level.”
Writing in his blog in the Huffington Post, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Business Professor Otto Scharmer argued that the hidden costs of apples suggest investors and others should recalculate their costs if they want to help, rather than damage, the environment.
That lesson is of course even more pertinent if lawmakers change rules or provide incentives for sustainable agriculture. “Regenerative farming practices use no pesticides and non-GMO seeds and focus on ecosystem diversity, crop rotation, composting and no-till cultivation (growing crops without disrupting the soil,)” wrote Scharmer.
What’s more, argued Scharmer, if all farmers switched over to more sustainable agriculture, the plants would absorb nearly all carbon dioxide emissions, buying time for more profits in the future.
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