Eat Organic!! But… What about my budget?
We see organic food trends all over the world. Experts tell us we should eat more organic, because it’s better for us, and for the environment. But…to what extend can we actually afford these products? Why are they so much more expensive than non-organic food? Are they actually worth it?
Yes. Organic food is healthier in the long-term than non-organic food. In fact, since organic food is not produced using toxic chemicals such as pesticides or fertilizers, it makes it better overall for our health (Conserve Energy Future). For example, organic milk, has more omega-3 fatty acids, CLA and vitamins than non-organic milks (OrganicFacts, 2018). Moreover, this lack of chemicals is also good for cellular energy production, as our mitochondria won’t be affected by chemicals (Whfoods, 2018). These are just some of the reasons why we see this kind of food everywhere in London, and they are also reason why this industry is booming, making giants of natural-foods, like Whole Foods being acquired by Amazon recently.
But how much better really is it? According to studies, organic plants contain on average 69% more antioxidants than conventional food, helping us protect our health from external damage (HealthWholeness, 2018). And organic meat has as similar effect towards our health since it has approximately 50% more omega-3 fatty acids. Bottom line, eating this type of food has been proven to be better for our health and for our environment, as harmful chemicals are not used in organic farming, there is minimal soil, air and water pollution, ensuring better environmental conditions for the future generations (OrganicFacts, 2018).
Regarding its price, last year, a report from the Soil Association mentioned that the UK spend £2billion in organic food (The Food Rush, 2017), representing 7.1% more than in 2016 (SoilAssociation, 2017). Other studies from ‘Consumer Reports’ also mention that in average organic food is 47% more expensive than non-organic (TIME, 2016). We can see this trend in the UK as well, especially in the big supermarket chains throughout the city. A recent study showed that in Tesco, Waitrose, Asda, Morrisons and Sainsburys, non-organic food was 89% cheaper than organic food! (Djs Research, 2016). In other words, according to similar studies, organic food represents an additional expenditure of £870 a year per person for an average consumer (Food Navigator, 2016).
Why is it that expensive?
There are several reasons that explain why organic food is much more expensive than non-organic. Time is money, and it is well-known that organic food producers take longer, since they don’t use pesticides and other chemicals, they need to look after their crops more often to control pests and other diseases (Jennifer Chait, 2018). On this note, since organic food is not allowed to use synthetic growth hormones, it actually takes longer to grow, and the produce is actually smaller, meaning that economies of scales are hard to achieve (Investopedia). Moreover, certifications also play an essential role in explaining this higher cost. Some certifications are not easy to get, and sometimes, depending on the production methods or farm facilities, some modifications are requires which demands high investments (Foxnews, 2012).
So, is the cost justified?
It is actually arguable, and there is a lot of personal preference and importance each individual gives to their own health and on environmental protection. If you think organic food is worth that additional cost, there is nothing wrong about that decision. In fact, you may choose to not buy organically grown vegetables but opt to buy organic meat for ethical reasons and that is also entirely fine. But if there is something that is true, is that organic food is better for your health than non-organic.
So, assuming you do consider that the extra cost is worth it, but in reality, you don’t have the budget to pay for this. What do you do in this case?
Here I propose a couple recommendations to eat organic food on a budget:
Buy in big quantities: buying in bulk often helps you save money. This can also be applied to organic sourced foods. Freezing or refrigerating these items can help you save some money. Nowadays, you don’t have to visit a far located supermarket, most online shops allow shopping in big quantities.
Buy seasonal produce: during some seasons, there will be a higher supply for certain products, and its price shouldn’t be so expensive. Moreover, you don’t have to order your food from a far corner of the world. Just wait until it’s the right time to buy!
Understand the labels: organic doesn’t necessarily mean it’s good for your health. You can find organic ice cream in many places, but there is no scientific evidence that this item is good for you. There are many types of different certifications, and you should get informed before purchasing, to see what exactly are you looking for.
Plant your own food: believe it or not, this is not rocket science. You can start by planting a herb pot, in a convenient place of your house, and then you can also grow some vegetables. You don’t need a garden in order to do this, as you can have these pots almost anywhere in your house.
Look for deals or discounts: some stores, for example in your local produce stores, you may find special prices for the local community. Furthermore, joining organizations such as the Soil Association gives you offers and discounts on organic products all year round (Soil Association).
Conserve Energy Future, 2018. What is Organic Food. [online] Available at: <https://www.conserve-energy-future.com/15-health-benefits-eating-organic-food.php> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
Organic Facts, 2018. 9 Amazing Benefits of Organic Foods. [online] Available at: <https://www.organicfacts.net/organic-products/organic-food/health-benefits-of-organic-food.html> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
Health Wholeness, 2018. The Top 8 Benefits of Organic Food for your Body and for the World. [online] Available at: <https://healthwholeness.com/foods/benefits-of-organic-food> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
The Food Rush, 2017. Is Organic Produce Worth a Premium Price. [online] Available at: <https://www.thefoodrush.com/articles/is-organic-produce-worth-a-premium-price/> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
TIME, 2016. Why Organic Food Might Be Worth the High Price. [online] Available at: <http://time.com/4206738/organic-food-worth-the-price-study/> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
Food Navigator, 2016. UK Shoppers pay 89% for Organic food. [online] Available at: <https://www.foodnavigator.com/Article/2016/01/28/UK-shoppers-pay-89-more-for-organic-food-survey> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
Djs Research, 2016. Organic Food is more expensive than non-organic, survey finds. [online] Available at: <https://www.djsresearch.co.uk/RetailMarketResearchInsightsAndFindings/article/Organic-food-is-more-expensive-than-non-organic-survey-finds-02918> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
Jennifer Chait, 2018. 10 Reasons Why Organic food costs more. [online] Available at: <https://www.thebalancesmb.com/reasons-organic-food-costs-more-2538165> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
Investopedia, 2018.Why is Organic food so expensive. [online] Available at: <https://www.investopedia.com/articles/personal-finance/091115/why-organic-food-so-expensive.asp> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
Organic Soil Association, 2018.Organic on a budget. [online] Available at: <https://www.soilassociation.org/organic-living/buy-organic/organic-on-a-budget/> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
Soil Association, 2017.UK Organic market tops £2billion. [online] Available at: <https://www.soilassociation.org/certification/trade-news/2017/uk-organic-market-tops-2-billion/> [Accessed 6 July 2018].
Whfoods, 2018.Why are organic food better for our health. [online] Available at: <http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=faq&dbid=37> [Accessed 6 July 2018].