Why Are Organic Products So Expensive?

With the best intentions in the world as a green consumer, it’s easy to get put off when you compare the price of organic food with regular mass-produced products. People who are on a limited budget may have the inclination to buy their groceries ethically, but when we stand in the store and check out the prices of our ethically-produced food, it can be tough to make a decision to stay green and add on an extra twenty percent to our weekly grocery bill.

Just as free-range foods cost more than battery-farmed produce, or Fairtrade products can cost up to thirty percent more than other types of foods, so organic produce tends to be significantly more expensive than other forms. There are a number of reasons for this, and understanding the rationale behind it can make it much easier to make an informed purchasing decision and reduce the sting of the increased cost.

Compensating for reduced crop yields
On average, an organic crop yields approximately twenty percent less than a conventional crop, due to the fact that the growers do not rely upon pesticides and chemicals to enhance the return on what has been planted. This means that agricultural methods are less rewarding when it comes to gaining value for money through the farming process. Some crops such as potatoes can yield as much as forty percent less when farmed organically, and this cost has to be recouped from the sale of the produce.

Accommodating higher production costs
It costs more to grow organically than it does to rely on chemicals, and this cost is incurred through the labour taken to produce a decent crop. Factors such as weeding add to the overall time and effort taken to produce a great organic crop, and labour-intensive farming needs to be funded. Onions and carrots need to be carefully looked after when they are grown to organic standards, taking up much more resource than conventional mechanisms.

Mitigating the cost by balancing it with environmental risk
This said, the cost to the environment is significantly higher when it comes to traditional famring methods. Pesticides and fertilizers can make our living expenses shoot up through increased medical treatment needs, and experts suggest that using agrochemicals such as methyl-bromide can deplete the ozone by up to twenty percent. This in turn leads to higher risks from skin cancers, so the price overall is balanced by going organic. When we look at the cost of producing a crop such as strawberries using chemicals, people do not factor in the expense of treating people who have adverse medical reactions, so the true weighing up of organic versus traditional methods of farming is not currently an accurate figure.

When all the hidden costs to the environment and our health are taken in to consideration, buying organic suddenly doesn’t seem so expensive, does it? It’s an established fact that buying organic produce is better for the environment, and better for us in the long term, so it’s worth stretching the budget a little in order to buy green, ethically-produced and healthier foods.

6 thoughts on “Why Are Organic Products So Expensive?

  1. Adding 20% more to my grocery bills would be no big deal at all if it were only that! I don’t know about UK prices, but here, in Canada, swithching to green solutions and certified organic products often mean paying up to three times the price of the ordinary commercial product to get in the end a wilted, spoiled or meagre item. Sometimes between an item that has lost most of its nutrients or palatability or packaged excessively in very small containers and priced as though these were gold nuggets – so between that and its regular counterparts that has at least the appearance of freshness and can be purchased in bulk for a small fraction of the price… the decision isn’t hard at all to make. You choose the lesser of the evil. Yes, there will be chemicals and GMO and so on… but at least you’ll get some nutrients and there will be some money left in your wallet. I care about the environment and about my health. I am a responsible consumer and where it is just a matter of changing my lifestyle or some habits, like bringing my own bags to the store, reusing and recycling, I do it and I’m happy to do so. If the certified organic broccoli was just 20% more expensive, everything else (freshness in particular) being equal, I’d eagerly go for the organic broccoli. But, as it is (in Canada, at least) you have to grow your own veggies if you want a good deal on certified organics. Something will have to change.

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