The True Cost of Organic Food Products

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To be, or not to be?

flickr / yummy-porky under Creative Commons

To be, or not to be?

Three US dollars. That’s about how much more you have to pay for a gallon of organic instead of conventional milk in the US. Over the past few years, organic products have increasingly found their way into consumers’ shopping baskets. But what makes them choose organic over highly processed products, and vice versa?

There are reasons to be organic and reasons against being organic. It is not necessarily an either-or decision. Rather, the decision to consume or not to consume organic food is dependent on the economic, educational and social circumstances of the consumer.

According to many researchers, there is a causal connection between organic food and protection of the environment. Many consumers who know about this connection take it as an incentive to go organic. To reduce their carbon footprint, many even rely only on local organic products. Farmers and other producers grow organic food by following country-specific certification norms. They use fewer nitrates in fertilizers, fewer pesticides and fewer antibiotics, compared with conventional-food producers.

According to Felix Prinz zu Löwenstein, chief executive of the German Union of Ecological Food Businesses, the main advantage of ecological farming is actually in the protection of the climate and natural resources such as soil and water; biodiversity; and humane husbandry.

However, depending on educational level and social status, not every consumer actually knows and cares about the connection between the environment and organic food. That is, some consumers choose not to be organic because they prefer sticking with their old habits.

Many consumers in Western societies have not yet been forced to reflect on malnutrition because its impacts are not immediately visible. To them, one reason not to go organic is that organic food differs from the food they are used to. For some, organic food tastes different compared with the flavor-enhanced food they normally consume.

And as organic products generally don’t use preservatives, they are more perishable. Consumers who choose not to go organic therefore feel organic food doesn’t bring them any benefits, no matter what the commercials say.

In turn, other consumers buy organic products for comparably perfunctory reasons. Over the years, marketing experts have discovered the organic culture trend. Ever since, products have been labeled as “organic,” sometimes even when they don’t meet all the certification norms.

Organic products are advertised in conjunction with a healthier way of life, even though there is no scientific proof for this. Moreover, organic food is generally more expensive than conventional food. For these two reasons, organic products have become a symbol for a somewhat classy lifestyle. Therefore, some consumers who choose to buy organic products don’t necessarily have to know about the differences between organic and processed food. Rather, they need to be able to afford it. At the same time, there are consumers who actually care about the production methods behind their food, but their economic situation simply does not allow them to go organic.

Overall, consumers who pay the extra three US dollars for organic milk must first be able to afford it. Then there are the many factors, all known to have an impact on society, that give consumers an incentive to buy organic instead of processed products.

4 thoughts on “The True Cost of Organic Food Products

  1. These are all well and good, but another reason to consider is faith. That is one of the reasons my family has switched to being a more organic home. We don’t do it perfectly, and being perfect isn’t our goal. We simply want the food we ingest to be as close to what it should be, the way The Lord originally set it up.

  2. It’s all about trust. How can consumers trust that food labelled as organic really is different from other food? The labels or certificates claiming “organaic” or “bio” are confusing. And there are more and more cases that organizations working with these labels are cheating or have been cheating. So, in my eyes, I’d trust a very well established brand offering an organic product line more than small labels – they’s simply have a higher risk if their promises would be misleading.

  3. if the education about organic eating can be preached on a daily basis, it will altimately reach favourable ears.

    i am a woman of 47years, a food gardener, leave in South Africa/ Soweto, i m practising PERMACULTURE(pemarnent way of doing agriculture using natural resources, being compost, water manure, insects spray, mulch) and my family enjoys the taste and health that comes with it. i m not perect but i put lot of effort in this.

  4. I have several reasons to eat organic.
    1. GMO: no way am I going to partake of that poison
    2. Respect for our planet: knowing the tons and tons of industrial fertilizers and pesticides used in industrial food production, I don’t feel the need to be part of that destructive practice toward our Mother Earth.
    3. Respect for animals: I’m horrified by how animals are treated in the industrial food production, I empathize far too much with them so I turned away from meat and fish in general.
    4. Love and sustainability: I’m convinced that only once we’ve recovered the sacred way of growing our food we will be able to value food and everything that goes with it.
    5. Healthy approach to life: eating organic is a bit more expensive but we ‘save’ on meat and fish and we only buy what is necessary for our own diet to remain healthy; we do not overeat for instance which keeps the bills low.
    6. Defying price/mentality dictates: we also know that the only reason organic production is more expensive than the industrial production is because industrial farmers receive huge subsidies to keep prices down. In the US for instance the states refuse to subsidize organic farmers, the thought behind the inequity being that soon enough consumers will turn their back on organic food and go back to industrial junk, a very profitable market after all.
    This line of thought failed however, while more and more people come to understand the dangers of GMO in particular but also of Roundup and the likes, witnessing more and more ppl developing intolerance to various types of products or getting sick with more and more unusual types of cancer. So instead, we rallied in support of organic food and are willing to pay more for safety and health; in return we won’t buy all that luxury that is unnecessary anyway and that saves us a lot of money, while keeping the doctors at bay because we are never sick.

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