THE PRICE OF ORGANIC PRODUCE
Perhaps the question that we all hear most often in the Natural Food Industry is, "why do organic foods typically cost more than their conventional counterparts?" This is a very legitimate question, especially in today’s economic environment. One of our organic suppliers, Albert’s Organics breaks it down in an easy to understand way. We thought we’d share it with you.
Organic Greens from Eaton Creek Organics. Photo by D.A. D’Elia.
- Cost factors such as growing, harvesting, storage and transportation are generally higher for organically produced foods, as farmers must meet stricter regulations governing all of the mandatory steps. As a result, the process of organic farming is more labor and management- intensive, which results in higher costs.
- Because organic growers do not use toxic chemicals, more labor (and thus a higher cost) is required to deal with weeds and pests in their fields. Organic agriculture tends to be on a smaller scale than conventional farming and thus organic farmers tend to pay more per acre to produce their crops - this according to Dave Decou of Organically Grown Company.
- Because of their size, organic farmers can often face added distribution costs. There are typically many more stops and deliveries in the distribution of organic food than with conventional.
- Historically, organic farmers have not received federal subsidies or price supports for their crops.
- If organic farmers dropped their prices across the board to match conventional products, we would run the risk that some of the steps taken to nurture the soil may be side-stepped. If this happens, their farms will not remain sustainable in the long run.
Organic Kolrabi and Turnips from Delvin Farms. Photo by D.A. D’Elia.
It is very important to think of the long-term impacts of choosing organics. There is mounting evidence that if all of the indirect costs of conventional agricultural production over time, including clean up costs due to pesticides in our water and soil, loss of soil and medical costs due to illness from pesticides were factored in, that organic foods would actually cost less.