Ever wondered why organic produce costs more than its chemical-laden counterparts? If growing organic means less pesticides, less growth-enhancing fertilizers, and less technological interventions, then why do we pay more at the check-out line?
First off, because the farmers do not use synthetic insecticides, organic crops produce a lower yield. Labor costs rise as farmers must manually tend to their crops by weeding and using organic pest control. Without these chemicals, the crops also experience a shorter (albeit more natural) growing season.
Without the use of chemical fertilizers, organic farmers use more traditional farming methods such as animal manure and compost to fertilize their crops. These natural methods are unfortunately bulkier and cost more to transport.
Organic farmers also typically rotate their crops to promote soil health and sustainability. While this is advantageous to the health of the consumer and the earth, it also means these farmers don’t utilize every acre for every growing season, which affects their profit model.
Supply and demand drives cost too. The market share for organic food is still significantly lower than conventional food. As the green movement continues its explosion, these numbers should balance out more.
Organic farmers pay fees for organic certifications. To gain certification, an organic farmer must follow a list of strict regulations and intimidating record-keeping policies. The fees and regulations of the industry add costs.
Adding to the problem, many conventional mass-scale farmers receive billions in government subsidies aimed at keeping food costs low to the consumer. However, almost all of these monies are given to farmers who use products and practices that increase yield, yet are widely known to cause adverse health effects in the consumer.
What can we do?
As a consumer, we drive the market, so its important to continue to buy organic as much as possible. If one can’t afford to buy all organic, buy where it matters. Fruits, such as strawberries and raspberries, with a lot of texture and nooks for pesticides to reside, are most important to buy organic. Whereas fruits such as bananas and oranges, with heavy peels, are much more safeguarded from harmful toxins. Think of the added cost as an investment in your health!
Ask your local representative to support the transfer of billions of dollars of farm subsidies–from large-scale conventional farmers to the organic guys, who use safer farming methods that protect our health as a nation.
GUEST POST: Darcy K. is a writer and stay-at-home mom to her young son Dax. In her blog (365) degrees, she talks about cloth diapering, breastfeeding, baby wearing, buying organic, and trying to green up her life one product at a time.
If you can afford organic (and local) foods then you are helping tell the market what’s important to you. Sadly many of us cannot justify the extra expense. The Environmental Working Group has developed a Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides. By visiting www.foodnews.org you can learn about the Clean 15 and the Dirty Dozen – foods that are almost always safe and foods that are almost always contaminated. Thanks Darcy for your guest post. If you would like to be a guest blogger on The Eco Chic email Calley@TheEcoChic.com and submit your ideas and topics.