In May the USDA released a report on the price differences between organic and non-organic foods. The summary of the report is HERE. I find it interesting that the most recent data available was from 2010. That strikes me as ridiculous. But leaving that aside, here is chart representing the price premium for various organic foods:
In the case of spinach the price differential is modest. In the case of eggs and milk, it is dramatic. Interestingly, the “organic premium” for spinach fell from over 60% in 2004 to only 7% in 2010. I’m not sure why.
A few thoughts on this. If the concern is pesticide residue, keep in mind that not all non-organic foods are equal. Sweet corn, cabbage, onions, asparagus and eggplant, for example, have relatively little pesticide residue. (See the Environmental Working Groups’s “Clean 15” list HERE). Apples, potatoes and celery on the other hand have high levels of pesticide residue and justify the organic premium. If you buy conventional apples, it’s important to peel them. As for strawberries, I honestly don’t think it’s safe to eat them unless they’re organic.
Eggs are a special case. As I’ve mentioned in several other posts, most of the time consumers who are trying to do the right thing when buying eggs in grocery stores are being misled and ripped off. Eggs labeled “cage free,” “free range” and “organic” are almost always coming from factory-farm chickens being raised in CAFOs. My advice to those who can’t keep chickens themselves is to get eggs at a farmers market from farms raising chickens naturally. You will have to pay significantly more for them, but they will probably be less expensive that “organic” grocery store eggs and they’re still fairly inexpensive considering how many meals you can get from a dozen eggs (and of course they compare very favorably to the cost of breakfast cereals).
Also keep in mind that it is not legal for farmers to identify their food as “organic” unless they have been organic-certified by the USDA. Many farms (including ours) grow their food organically, but do not seek USDA certification. Chances are that you can find high quality sources for food at your farmers market without having to pay the high premiums charged for organically-certified food at grocery stores.
This will be my last blog post for awhile. We’re leaving this weekend for a long overdue vacation. Notice that I’ve now linked our Instagram feed in the right-hand column. You can click on pictures to view them and you don’t have to be an Instagram subscriber. If possible I will post some pictures there during our trip.
Au revoir y’all.