True Cost Accounting for Food: Balancing the Scale addresses the unseen costs of a broken food system. The new book suggests that a better food system is possible if the true cost of food is taken into account during every step of the supply chain, from farm to rubbish bin and beyond.

True Cost Accounting for Food provides a new lens through which to understand the social, human, economic and environmental costs of food. True cost accounting is a holistic food system assessment tool intended to illuminate and measure the flows, externalities, and dependencies of the food system, both negative and positive.

Edited by Dr. Lauren Baker, Paula Daniels, and Dr. Barbara Gemmill-Herren, the book begins with an introduction from the trio that details the myriad factors that true cost accounting encompasses.

“Behind all the food that we eat is a vast realm of unaccounted for interactions: the diversion of water from rivers; the extraction of nutrients from soil; the discharge of pollutants to air and water; the exaction of labor to grow, manage, pick, and package; the release of carbon dioxide to transport and deliver; and so on,” they write. “When we shine a light on these interactions it becomes clear that a 99¢ hamburger costs all of us a lot more than the dollar placed by a consumer into the hands of a cashier.”

True cost accounting is a “new economics of food and a new relationship with the land and the food that we eat, starting with a holistic view of a system out of balance and ending with a new approach to business and integrated reporting,” the editors conclude.

The book’s chapters are written by a diverse group of experts, including farmers, researchers, scientists, lawyers, and other experts. Authors include Nadia El-Hage Scialabba of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Patrick Holden of the Sustainable Food Trust, and Saru Jayaraman of One Fair Wage.

Read the full article about hidden food costs by Eve Gleeson at Food Tank.