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Why Organic Food Costs More

By: James Murray-White - Updated: 3 Oct 2012 | comments*Discuss
Why Organic Food Costs More

Organic food does often cost more than regular food that is produced non-organically.Sometimes it can cost up to 50% more in the case of early summer fruit and vegetables, sometimes it only costs a few pence more, depending largely on the seller.The reasons for this price difference are varied. It is mainly to do with production costs, but also because many food suppliers, namely supermarkets, actually hide the real cost of food by bringing in to the country cheaper and cheaper food imports.

While shoppers at the tills are glad to see the savings they have gained on imported non-organic foods, and can be horrified to see that the organic food in their basket, which may even have been grown in their local area, is more expensive, the discrepancy is made up by supermarkets disguising the real cost of food, which is ultimately, not such a cheap commodity as many shoppers believe it to be.

Agri-Business and Cut-Price Food

The more intensive agriculture and the food industry becomes, the cheaper the food it produces can be. With modern transportation and innovations like canning and flash freezing, food can either get from the field to the consumer very quickly, or it can be stored. However, as mechanisation has improved within this industry, humans’ role in this process can diminish. Often workers in this industry are paid very little.

In the organic farming process, it is more human-intensive, and there are fair wages set as standard. More land must be given to crops grown organically, and the cost of using more land (and less machinery), must also be factored in to the eventual cost of the product.

Farmers who farm organically are realising the power of their product, and starting to demand a fair price from the purchasers and suppliers, which can lead to a higher price on organic food in the shops, as sellers pass this cost on to the shopper.

Eating Healthily Costs More

The more organic food that is produced and bought within the UK, the more the cost of it will come down. If cheap imports are reduced there will be a price stabilisation of food cost, and the shopping public will start to see the real cost of agriculture.It is unfortunately true though, that to eat healthily in the western, developed world, here in the UK, the consumer must spend more money on organic food than on non-organic food.

Ways to reduce spending might include:

  • Buying a large and regular supply as a community, perhaps getting a group of friends or neighbours to order together, and buying in bulk from a local health food store or a specialist organic supplier;
  • Buying a weekly or monthly vegetable box from a local organic farmer;
  • Growing some organic food yourself – using window boxes if there is limited space, or joining up with a local allotment scheme;
  • Befriending a local organic farmer (meet them at your local farmer's market), and offering some regular work hours on the farm in exchange for organic vegetables.
Discuss with your local retailer or supermarket manager the real cost of food: engage and continue this fascinating and important debate - for all our healthy futures.

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