Confused about organic foods? Check out these articles : What Exactly Are Organic Foods?
Why Are Organic Products So Expensive?
While organics may seem expensive, and in fact their price tag at the market is roughly 15% more than conventionally produced goods (as of this writing in 2009), the hard truth is that conventionally produced foods are not as much of a bargain as they appear.
Consumers actually pay for industrially produced food three ways – at the cash register, in the form of government farming subsidies, and in health and environmental damages. The price you pay at the store for conventionally grown meat and produce in the United States is less than it would actually cost if the government didn’t subsidize its production, making the price seem lower at the store. If you are a taxpayer you are still paying for it in the end.
Organic farmers, on the contrary, enjoy little to no taxpayer subsidies. While exhaustive lobbying efforts are underway to correct these inadequacies, as of this writing organic crops will carry a higher price tag at the market.
Other factors influence the higher price including lack of overall market share, lower yields for organic produce, higher costs of organic fertilizers, and increased labor costs (for instance without the use of chemical herbicides, many crops need to be weeded by hand). Depending on where you live, supply and demand may also come into play – especially in big cities where there may be more organic consumers than producers can accommodate.
But there’s good news! As sales of organic products increase and more consumers jump on the organic bandwagon, prices are dropping.
Want to see less expensive organic produce? Keep purchasing organic products and supporting the people who produce them.
Money Saving Tips for Buying Organics
OK, so you understand the importance of organics, but what if you’re food budget is already stretched to the max? These tips can help you save money when buying organic foods and products:
- Farmer’s markets will almost always be cheaper than a specialty market, so plan to regularly frequent yours to buy fruits, vegetables, and even natural products like honey, cheeses and baked goods.
- Ask for deals on borderline produce and cook with what’s on sale. Farmers and even grocery store produce managers are more willing to cut deals on foods that won’t keep. If you see ripe produce that’s about to become too ripe, it never hurts to ask for a discount.
- Find a good deal? Buy extra and freeze, either the food itself or dishes you prepare with it.
- Look for coupons for organic products. Good places to find them include health, fitness, and vegetarian magazines, and from the organic food manufacturer’s own websites.
- Make due with less, especially when it comes to meat. Meat does not make the best use of natural farm resources, and likewise organic meats can be especially cost prohibitive. But most Americans consume far too much meat in relation to their nutritional requirements anyway. Buy organic and make do with smaller cuts, your waistline and the planet will thank you.
- Use every bit of what you buy. Plan meals and grocery shopping so that you end up using every bit of the groceries you buy. Food in the trash doesn’t do anyone any good.
- Buy local and in season. Food in season from local producers will always be cheaper than organic foods that need to shipped in from a long distances.
- Buy in bulk. Many warehouse stores are now starting to stock organic and environmentally friendly products, from groceries to cleaning supplies. Buy in bulk. If you can’t use it all, join forces with a friend and split the food.
- Join a food co-op and support community agriculture. Some organizations even deliver organic foods right to your door.
- Grow your own. If you have even a small yard in a climate that can support a vegetable garden, you’ll be sure to get the freshest most natural produce. Gardens can also be rewarding family projects and lots of fun.
- If you’re lucky enough to have a Trader Joe’s store in your area, use it. You’ll find tons of organic foods and products here at prices normally way below specialty markets or even supermarket chains.