Supermarket Food is Like a Tiger in a Zoo

This post is about a 2 minute read

Real food is more expensive than supermarket food if you measure only in dollars. But here’s the thing: if you can measure its value in dollars, it’s not really real food.

The value of food was never meant to be measured. To measure something, you have to separate it out from the other things it’s connected to. As soon as you do that, it becomes a hollow, disconnected copy of what it was before it was isolated.


No matter how good zoos get, a tiger is no longer a wild tiger when it’s in a zoo. It’s like a tiger, and it’s better than no tiger at all, but it’s just a copy of the real, wild thing as it was when it was part of the jungle.

So it is with food.

Industrialization reduced food to so many isolated, standardized, measurable units of commerce. Before industrialization, food was a complex, multi-faceted, and central part of life that reached into and interconnected with every other part of life.

Real food not only feeds the stomach but also the relationships between the people working together in food related roles, and the relationships between people and the land and animals that gift us the food.

That’s how you know it's real food: it builds connections and diversity, rather than destroying them.

Previously, real food connected people to each other, to the earth and the seasons, and to plants and animals in ways that sustained people’s health on physical, social, and spiritual levels while also sustaining the health of our environment and the web of life we are nested into.

Now, supermarket food is something you make choices about based on price.

Please leave a comment...

What goes through your mind when you weigh up the cost of real food (local, regeneratively grown, organic, etc) against its cheap supermarket alternative?

  • Hi,

    We totally agree with this. Real food needs love and care and we believe has to be farmed in Harmony with nature.

    Thats what we are trying to do at our permaculture farm in Tanzania. Produce totally pure, healthy, sustainable foods that make a positive impact on our consumers and society.

    You can learn more at

    We also focus on going direct to consumers so we don’t go through the traditional retail channels.

    Its refreshing to read about this 🙂

    • Thanks for your comment, James. I wish you great success with Dhow Nature Foods.

  • Great blog. A great price has been paid in the loss of knowledge.
    We have a farmer who has a small, productive farm who has taken us under his wing and has helped us immensely.
    But, we still have made lots of mistakes because of ignorance.
    I remember walking into woolies fruit and veg section one morning looking around at everything and it struck me how generic it all looked. I felt bored.
    That was 16 years ago. I went home and started a vegetable garden at the back of our rental and before too long was growing enough food that I was giving two boxes of veg away a week. I felt the happiest I had in years.

    • Thanks for commenting, Claire. You are right, a lot of knowledge has been lost for most of us, but there are still people like your farmer friend who are able to help and teach. And you are so right that there is happiness and satisfaction in growing your own, even if you live in a rental, that the supermarket fruit and veg section will never provide.

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