10 Reasons Why Organic Food Cost More

10 Reasons Why Organic Food Cost More

10 Reasons Why Organic Food Cost More

You walk through the supermarket ailes comparing prices of the strawberries in the fruit section. One punnet is $3.99 and another punnet which is certified  organic is $6.99. Almost doubled in price. Depending where in Australia you purchase organic produce you can expect to pay around 20 – 100% premium.

So is the higher price for organic food justified?

Organic food has taken some beating from the public due to the expensive price tag that comes with it. Now we can go into a debate about the claims of scientific evidence showing organic produce containing more nutrition. Or counter reports showing organic produce having no nutritional advantage over conventional foods.

The fact is, the higher price for organics has nothing to do with the nutritional value of the product.

What we do know for sure is that organic produce contains no herbicides, pesticides, chemical fertilizers, insecticides, growth hormones, GMOs, antibiotics, artificial additives, flavourings, colourings and chemical preservatives etc……. So you are putting less toxins into your body when consuming organic foods.

So does the health aspect for organic foods alone justify for the almost doubling in price tag? Off course not! Here are 10 more reasons why organic food cost more?

1. Higher risk to produce

Since no herbicides or pesticides are used for plants, and no antibiotics are used on animals, farmers run a higher risk of losing all or part of a year’s crops, and dealing with any pest outbreaks or animal diseases will be a lot tougher.

2. Animal crap cost more than chemical crap

Some of the things organic farmers can’t use that conventional farmers can: Sewage sludge, which is cheap to buy, and chemical fertilizers, which are both cheap to buy and cheap to transport. Instead, organic farmers fertilize their land with compost and animal manure, which is bulkier and more expensive to ship. (More $$$ added to the production)

3. Organic Foods take Longer to Grow

Without the aid of chemicals and growth hormones, on average, organic food grows more slowly than non-organic food. Time is money when your making anything. Longer growing time means slower production rate.

Longer growing time is one of the reasons that organic food tastes better, as the produce is allowed to ripen more naturally and to get the tasty nutrition it needs from the soil.

4. Bio dynamic farming and harvesting

While conventional farmers can use every acre to grow the crops that fetch the highest prices, organic farmers use crop rotation to keep their soil healthy. Instead of planting a cash crop on every acre every year, they rotate fields and plant “cover crops” that are plowed to improve the soil’s nutrients for the long term. (More $$$ added to the production)

Farmers also have to convert their land to organic production over a period of time, and as organic farming relies on crop rotation, up to 25% of land may be left to lie fallow at any one time to increase natural soil fertility.

5. More Labour Intensive

Organic food production is definitely more labour and management intensive with less help from machines and more use of hands and knees.

6. What do live stock eat?

For a chicken to be classified as free range organic, farmers can’t be feeding them with the conventional feeds. They need to be fed the organic stuff. Organic feed for chickens, cattle and other livestock can cost twice as much as conventional feed. (More $$$ added to the production)

7. Organic Certification

To be certified organic, producers must meet strict regulations. Certifying food as organic also involves additional administrative costs and membership cost. (More $$$ added to the production)

8. Your tax money helps conventional farming. Organic farming gets nothing

Agro­chemical agriculture is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer through the government, whereas organic farming receives no subsidies at all.

You as the consumer pays three times when they buy intensively farmed food. Firstly, you pay at the shop. Next, you pay for the same food through you’re taxes, as modern farming is subsidised through the tax system. Thirdly, you pay again to clean up the damage to the environment caused during the growing and the raising of the food (cleaning up pesticides from waterways etc)

9. Smaller Scale with smaller crop yields

Due to the smaller demand for organic foods. organic farming happens on a smaller scale on smaller farms which lack the benefit of economy of scale. As the organic market grows, prices will surely stabilise (especially if the governments pushes forward with the organic food concept. But I don’t see this happening any time soon).

One factor driving the prices down is the entry into the organic market of the big supermarket giants such as Coles and Woolworths. In countries where organic production is a higher proportion of the overall food production than it is in Australia, the price of organic food is coming down. This is largely due to economies of scale.

10. No chemical preservative means less shelve life

The absence of toxic chemical preservatives in organic foods means storage time and shelve life will be effected. The quicker that products rot means less time on the shelves and the risk of more products being throw out.

When the indirect costs of conventional food production such as replacement of eroded soils, clean up of polluted water, costs of health care for farmers, farm workers and the consumers, environmental cost of artificial pesticide production and disposal, are factored into the cost, organic food is much cheaper. We need to look at the full lifecycle cost of production of organic vs non-organic.

While it may cost more to purchase these organic products, isn’t it worth the effort just knowing that you are benefiting your environment in which you live in?

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