Here are the reasons why organic food is more expensive


ALBANY – Have you ever been to the grocery store and noticed that products labeled organic often have higher prices than the same items without this seal?

They do – but there are reasons for the difference.

Take, for example, some items at a local supermarket.

A pack of two organic cucumbers can cost $ 3.49. Two non-organic cucumbers cost $ 1.36, less than half. Likewise, a two-quart vanilla yogurt was priced at $ 2.99 on a recent visit. Stonyfield’s other organic option was priced at $ 4.59.

Despite the higher price, the Organic Trade Association reported that sales of organic products “reached new highs” in a 2020 survey, jumping 12.4% to a record high of $ 61.9 billion. Organic food alone saw a similar jump of 12.8%, bringing it to a total of $ 56.4 billion from transactions.

And in 2016, the United States Department of Agriculture pointed out that previous research determined that organic price premiums from 2004 to 2010 were “more than 20% of the price of non-organic products” for 17 products. basic he studied.

Experts and farmers said that the disparity in organic and inorganic costs arises from the difference between agriculture and production.
Buying an organic product means you are investing in an item that has been created or grown through completely natural processes without chemicals or man-made agents, which should not be confused with products marketed as “all natural”.

The “natural” label, according to Organic Valley, an organic food cooperative in partnership with several New York farms, “simply means that a food product does not contain added color, artificial flavors or synthetic substances, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)). ”

“Natural” products are not subject to a regulated standard like organic products are, which means that natural farmers can still use chemical pesticides, synthetics and genetic modifications in their practices.

Eric Sheffer, a sixth generation farmer who sells milk in Stonyfield, converted to organic in 2014.

Sheffer abandoned his conventional methods after years of contemplating the change and finding a small window to perform the expensive reversal. Turning the farm into an organic vehicle with crops spared from chemical fertilizers and other commercial additives such as herbicides and pesticides was a three-year procedure, required by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) .

He said the earth’s transition was not as noticeable until last year, when the change from the animals’ diet to a fully organic diet turned out to be the “real financial blow.”

“The animal transition has been just absolutely brutal financially,” he said, noting that the cost of organic grains and additive-free feed has doubled and tripled while causing cows to produce less.

“For a few (of) hundred cows, you’re looking at a minimum of half a million dollars for the transition,” he noted.

Going organic meant suffering a “fairly significant” blow to production. He said his cows produced less without the “potent” additives they absorbed in conventional grains. What the farm used to produce in a few hours now took them about a full day to produce.

Stepping back, he pointed out that large conventional farms can produce 25,000 to 30,000 pounds of milk per year, but that small organic farms like his generate about half of it.

Sheffer, like other organic farmers, was also required to account for the annual fees associated with obtaining official USDA and state certifications. The amount each farm pays for the designation depends on the size of its operations. Sheffer estimated that he pays between $ 5,000 and $ 7,000 per year for the seal of approval.

Organic Valley said the organic label “is not easy to earn” and is part of the reason consumers pay more for these products.

“Farms undergo regular inspections and audits to ensure all standards are still being met over time,” the company said. “Organic is one of the strictest food certifications in the country, and organic farming is an approach to growing food with nature. “

“Our farms are not little gadgets in a big factory machine producing processed food. This higher cost pays for healthier, less ‘artificial’ foods on your table, ”he added.

Stephen Hadcock, team leader of the Capital Area Agriculture and Horticulture program at the Cornell Cooperative Extension, explained that following such comprehensive guidelines, in many ways, can potentially lead to less production for organic farmers who, rather than rely on machines, choose to use physical labor that takes longer.

Essentially, dropping a few extra pennies or dollars for the organic seal covers the costs for farmers of using more labor and the extra expense of natural crop protection. The payoff, Hadcock said, is “philosophical” for farmers who are committed to the morality of letting mother nature provide.

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