12 Oct 2013 - Help Me Out

Whenever I talk about organic farming or organic food on my programs on radio and TV, I get accused of being against organic farming and organic food. Let me quickly say, nothing could be further from the truth. I am delighted when you, as producers, go organic and find consumers who will pay two or three times more for your product than they will for food that’s produced conventionally; more power to you!

But then, let me be open and honest and say I will not be one of those consumers who will pay that higher price for organic milk or other products, because I do not see the additional health or nutritional benefits in organically produced food. That’s my personal opinion and I have no problem if you feel differently.

Now, to the question that prompts this discussion. I recently received an e-mail from a city single-mom who said . . . “I really would like to feed organic food products to my children but I can’t afford them. Why is organic food so expensive?” So I turn to you in the organic industry to help me respond to this lady.

I understand what she is saying because a few weeks ago, when my wife and I were in Arizona, my wife went shopping at her favorite supermarket to buy chicken breasts. She found the only chicken breasts that were available were organically produced, there were no non-organic chicken breasts in the meat counter. The label stated they were produced on a farm in Colorado and said “chicken raised with no antibiotics ever, fed all vegetarian diet, fed no animal by-products.” Then came the price, it was $6.99 a pound. Later my wife found non-organic chicken breasts at another store priced at...$2.99 a pound.

So back to this mother’s question . . . “Why is organic food so much more expensive?” You don’t have to put up expensive buildings to produce and house the birds, you don’t buy antibiotics, you don’t buy expensive fertilizer, insecticides or herbicides, so why is the cost of organic food so high? Why is organic chicken priced $4.00 a pound more than non-organic chicken in the meat counter?

It seems to me if organic food prices were lower and more affordable, the demand and size of the market would increase sharply, to the benefit of producers across the country. So I am asking for your help and looking for answers from organic producers, so I can honestly respond to this single mom who said . . . “I want to feed organic food to my children but I can’t afford it.” Help me out.

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.