Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that the organic food craze is in full swing.
Organic goods are those that have been grown and harvested with the methods of organic farming, and there are loads of benefits they have over your regular supermarket fare, as well as a higher price tag.
Why is organic food more expensive? There are a few reasons why organic food is more expensive, including smaller yields from crops, the use of organic fertilizers, and various marketing and certification that comes with this label.
Most people are happy to pay the price difference for the benefits, but it might not be for everyone.
Organic products are now easier to get than ever, however, they might not be financially feasible for everyone to purchase.
This guide will walk you through the pricing of organic food and why it’s more expensive than regular products, so you can see whether it’s worth the extra cost.
What Is Organic Food?
Organic food is food that has been produced to set standards of organic farming, production, and processing.
In the United States, it’s the USDA that sets these standards, but other countries have their own regulatory bodies that oversee the production.
For a food to be classified as organic, it needs to meet certain farming standards, with the most important being that the produce is grown without any synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides, or GMOs.
Other methods like rotating crops, composting, and soil tests ensure the health of the surrounding earth as well.
Organic livestock has another set of standards that ensure that the animals are raised in ideal conditions that allow them to exhibit natural behaviors, like cows being put out to pasture to grace for as long as they want to, and not be administered antibiotics or growth hormones.
The animals must also be given organic feed and the forage they graze on must be organic as well.
Why Is It More Expensive?
If you’ve ever purchased an organic item at the supermarket, you might be surprised to find how much more it costs than the non-organic alternative. The reason for these higher prices come down to a few different factors, including:
Certification and standards
The certification process for being recognized by the USDA can be costly, including the fees paid directly to the organization and the upgrades and adjustments made to their existing farming operations.
In addition to the initial certification, it is the financial responsibility of the farmer to employ an independent auditor to do annual checks on their farming and processing procedures to ensure they still comply with organic standards.
The farmers have to use organic fertilizers and other products on their farms, which means higher costs for them.
As your organic foods aren’t made with anything synthetic, this means the entire process from seed to table relies on other costly organic products to grow.
As organic foods are grown without synthetics like pesticides and fertilizers, the yield is often smaller than a regular crop.
The farming methods used to grow foods are more labor-intensive as well, so you’re doing more work for less product. These costs are then passed onto the consumer so that the farmer is still able to make a profit for their business.
Supply and demand
The demand for organic food is slowly overtaking the supply, so farmers can charge extra sometimes to meet this. Consumers are happy to pay extra for the benefits of organic food, so these costs are gladly taken on.
The Sustainability of Organic Food Production
With all of the factors that go into making organic food, you might wonder if this approach is sustainable.
The very nature of organic food is that it’s designed for sustainability and a commitment to ensuring the earth and its inhabitants are able to continue farming for centuries to come.
The use of synthetic-free pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers directly impacts the soil and improves its health.
From there, the potential runoff that can make its way into our oceans and waterways is less harmful with the organic farming approach, which means it positively impacts the environment around it as well.
Some potential issues still need to be addressed, like how more land is used for organic farming than non-organic farming to achieve the same yields or the use of methods like plastic sheeting to deter pests when synthetic chemicals can’t be applied.
However, with organic farming still in its early stages, there’s lots of room for improvement and the methods are always advancing.
Are the Costs Worth It?
Any time you look at buying a new product or spending more than you usually would on something, it pays to do a quick cost analysis.
When it comes to organic products, there are some benefits worth weighing up when you’re thinking about whether you can justify the higher price.
As organic food is grown without preservatives, farmers need to get it into the store faster before it goes bad. This means the food choices you’re shopping from are almost always going to be fresher than the non-organic alternative.
You will need to put in more effort at home though to ensure they stay fresher in your fridge, freezer, or pantry.
It’s better for the animals
If you’re vegan, vegetarian, or just committed to doing better for animals, organic is the way to go. Using organic farming methods, you can be sure that the products you’re buying have been harvested and farmed without harming animals unnecessarily.
You’ll have peace of mind that they live a good life and get to enjoy their natural behaviors, unlike other farms.
It’s kinder to the earth
The soil below your food, the waterways near it, and the sky above will all benefit when you make the switch to organic.
This way of farming has loads of environmental benefits and it’s a more sustainable way to grow food in the future as well.
It contains no GMOs
There’s no need to worry about GMOs in your food when you shop organic as the very nature of the farming methods means there’s not allowed. However, some people would consider that not all GMOs are bad, so it depends on where you stand on the issue.
With all of the good that organic food offers, there is some potential bad to be aware of before you make the switch. Consider these downsides that might put you off from going 100% organic.
In some areas, the cost of organic food can be more than double, depending on what you’re buying. Many people won’t find it feasible to switch out their entire grocery list for organic alternatives without going broke.
It doesn’t always taste better
Although you know it’s better for you, the taste of organic food isn’t always superior. Some people prefer it and others can’t taste any difference at all, so don’t expect it to be a gamechanger for your tastebuds.
Choosing the Right Organic Products
Organic food is not just better for you but the planet as well, so it’s understandable that prices will be a little higher.
If you can’t afford to stock your whole fridge and pantry with organic goods, choosing just a few products that will make a difference is the best approach.
The world of organic products has spanned far beyond just fruits and vegetables these days, so you’re more spoilt for choice than ever.
If you’re still trying to learn the basics about what organic products are all about, these FAQs can help you make sense of it all.
How Are Organic Products Certified?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the governing body for organic goods in the US, and they are in charge of certification.
Various standards must be met before a company’s product can be deemed organic, including soil quality, pest and weed control, how animals are raised, and whether additives are used.
Does Organic Mean No Preservatives?
The organic label usually refers to how the food was grown, harvested, or farmed, but not always how it’s preserved.
Preservatives may be added to certain foods after they’ve been harvested and processed so they can stay fresher for longer, so it’s possible that organic ingredients might be treated with these at some point.
Does Organic Food Stay Fresher Longer?
Most organic foods won’t last as long as their non-organic counterparts because they haven’t been treated with preservatives and other synthetic products.
There are ways to store your organic products so they can be enjoyed longer though, like dehydrating and freezing them.
Lorraine Pinnix is a passionate nutritionist and loves seeing people living healthy, and fulfilled lives. She believes that food is an essential piece of staying fit and strongly believes in going vegan. PureGrowthOrganic is a passionate work that details her research in helping you go on complete organic diets. She is available for questions, comments, and follow-ups.