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Byron Shire
June 20, 2021

Who pays when food is cheap?

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Government subsidies, exploitive labour practices, and costs to land are the reason conventional food is too cheap, and organic food relatively expensive, according to the US Cornucopia Institute, a tax-exempt public-interest group.

Joel Orchard’s Future Feeders is one organisation that has turned that on its head. Using the Mullumbimby Community Gardens (that gained Council support to lease 5ha of Council-owned land in the centre of Mullumbimby), Future Feeders sells organic produce without storefront costs to subscribers via a model called CSA (community-supported agriculture).

It also sells to casual visitors. One of their marketing messages is that you don’t need to worry about finding a carpark in Mullumbimby, as you can pick up veggies from the Gardens (it has its own large carpark), or have them delivered to you. Santos Organics Ltd is another Mullumbimby company selling organic produce. Santos does not have to pay income tax, as it registered itself as a charity last year.

Santos general manager and Byron councillor Michael Lyon told The Echo last year that organic produce is generally more expensive, because chemically-grown produce has ‘hidden costs’ and receives subsidies. Santos provides value by redistributing its ‘profit’ according to its charitable purpose; by shopping here, people can know they are really giving back to community and the environment.

Applications to receive grants from Santos closed at the end of February and communications manager Paul Crebar said that an announcement about which individuals and organisations were to receive the initial $40,000 in grants, which are expected to total in excess of $100,000 annually, could be expected by the end of March 2017. Stay tuned.

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