This is a question that any shopper trying to buy more conscientiously asks themselves when walking through the organic grocery aisle – “why does the organic food always seem to be so much more expensive than the conventional options?”
Although it may not help your pocketbook, knowing the true costs of buying conventional foods will certainly help make it a bit easier to spend a little more money for that “organic” label.
Running an organic farm is far from easy… these hard-working farmers have to maintain detailed records and go through countless inspections to keep their accreditation as an organic farm. This makes for a lot more time spent on paperwork and more money spent on administrative costs than a conventional farmer would spend.
The way food is grown is also very different. A conventional farmer will plant their cash crops year after year, getting the highest yield possible over and over. This is done at the expense of the health of the land, as it contributes to soil erosion and saps nutrients from the soil. Organic farmers, on the other hand, will rotate their crops, allowing the soil time to rebuild itself, developing healthier, stronger crops. Though this is much healthier for the land (and the people eating the crops!), it comes at the expense of making less money than a conventional farmer.
In addition, conventional farmers spray their crops with tons of nasty chemical fertilizers and often use sewage sludge as soil additives, because of the cheap costs. Organic farmers, however, use only compost and animal manure, which are natural additives; though they are far more expensive to ship and use.
Lastly, but most importantly, farm subsidies from the government contribute greatly to the higher cost of organic foods. Each year, the government sets aside more than $15 billion for farm subsidies, yet only $15 million of this will go to organic farms. What a gap! No wonder conventional farms can keep costs so much cheaper than organic farms!
So, the next time you find yourself debating whether or not to spend that extra dollar for the organic brand, remember the organic farmer, working diligently for less money to ensure that their crops are healthier for the consumer. It’s worth it.
About the Author:
Leah McDermott is a former teacher turned stay-at-home mama and small business owner. She spends her days chasing a toddler, cooking, crafting, writing, caring for animals, gardening, and enjoying time with her husband and son on their small farm in rural PA. She blogs at Crunchy Farm Baby.