The Economics of the Naturalist Food Paradigm

Posted: 14 Oct 2019

See all articles by Gordon C. Rausser

Gordon C. Rausser

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics

Steven Sexton

Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy

David Zilberman

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics

Date Written: October 2019

Abstract

Challenges to the conventional paradigm have isolated industrial agriculture from consumer segments exhibiting preferences for a growing array of credence attributes, including organic, locally produced, and raised using humane livestock and poultry practices. This review surveys the empirical evidence on the economic impact of the alternative to the conventional industrial agriculture paradigm that motivates these growing market segments. We define this alternative the Naturalist Paradigm. While more research is needed to completely assess the impacts of specific naturalist responses, current findings demonstrate that restrictions on industrial practices imposed by policy or consumer preferences sacrifice productivity, thereby imposing environmental costs and raising food prices. Such restrictions may also reduce choice sets of consumers, impeding consumer and producer welfare gains. The intended benefits of such practices for human, animal, or environmental well-being must be weighed against the costs they impose. Trade-offs imposed by such practices suggest that their contributions to obesity reduction in the developed world, alleviation of hunger and malnutrition among poor populations, and avoidance of environmental pollution and biodiversity loss are highly uncertain.

Suggested Citation

Rausser, Gordon C. and Sexton, Steven and Zilberman, David, The Economics of the Naturalist Food Paradigm (October 2019). Annual Review of Resource Economics, Vol. 11, Issue 1, pp. 217-236, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3468073 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-resource-100516-053623

Gordon C. Rausser (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics ( email )

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Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
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HOME PAGE: http://are.berkeley.edu/~rausser/

Steven Sexton

Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy ( email )

201 Science Drive
Box 90312
Durham, NC 27708-0239
United States

David Zilberman

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics ( email )

Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

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