Economic Issues Relating to Organic Food

Economic Issues Relating to Organic Food

A common complaint about eating organic food is, it is expensive and hard to fit into even a middle income family’s food budget.  This is a myth if we are willing to grow our own organic food. We need to prepare ourselves with the assurance that our families and communities will have food security. There will come a day in the very near future when we will no longer be able to depend on food being shipped in to our cities and communities. The cost of fossil fuel is rising, forcing prices on food whether organic or not to source high as well. Seeds are not expensive and if we learn to make our own compost from kitchen scrapes with soil mixed in, we can have abundant gardens. 

Meat, dairy and eggs can become very expensive for our budgets because of farmer’s costs. We can get them cheaply if the animals are not treated well, paying the workers low wages and not caring for the environment. If we are trying to be responsible and ethical, we would not want our farmers to cut costs in this manner. In the end we would be paying higher costs in cleaning up our polluted water supplies and taking care of outbreaks due to food poisoning.  

Convenience is one of our society’s values. We can go to the grocery store and buy foods shipped in from another country like Mexico or South America. We can buy food 24/7; expecting the stores to be stocked with what we want or need.  

We spend 10% of our income on food and this can be done if we are frugal cooks.  Growers of food can form coops for selling food at a cheaper price. Coops can supply food at a wholesale price. The growers need to unite and get bigger to keep the price down.  As consumers we can join buying clubs to purchase our food that is grown locally.  Small scale farming is labor intensive and land intensive making it harder to meet the demand for healthy, organic food. Also, consideration has to be given to the “food mile”, which is passed on to the grower. It is more efficient to drive a large quantity of food by industrial agriculture than for the small scale grower. Our current system of growing food is very good at providing it at less expense. 

More of us are buying organic food and thus, putting a squeeze on the demand for it.  There are not enough organic farmers to go around in supplying organic food on a large scale.  The field for buying organic food has spread beyond the niche of college towns into big-box stores. U.S. organic growers have been faced with the impact of a weaker economy. 

More information on the economics of organic food can be found in the study: Emerging Issues in the U.S. under the title “Organic Industry emerging issues in the U.S.”. Those who can will pay more for a fantastic tomato.