Organic Prices

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:

organic price premium 2010

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.



28 comments on “Organic Prices

  1. shoreacres says:

    Thanks for linking your Instagram. Since I don’t belong, I’ll not be able to comment, but I’ll enjoy seeing the pics. Bon voyage!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Laurie Graves says:

    Yes, bon voyage! Look forward to reading your posts when you are back from vacation. There is a Franco saying about vacations and traveling—It changes the mind. My mother used to say it in French, but unfortunately I don’t remember how it went, so I must revert to the English translation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. NebraskaDave says:

    Bill, I don’t even consider organic food from a grocery store. The big Ag business has messed with the legal term so much that it doesn’t mean anything to me. You have mentioned that it’s just easier to claim to be a chemical free grower than to try to get the certification to use the term organic.

    Have a great trip. See you on the back side.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I think organic food from a grocery store is marginally better than conventional food, but it’s not nearly as good as people expect it to be. I always encourage people to favor local over industrial organic.

      See you (sort of) in a couple of weeks!


  4. Scott says:

    You can put the country boy in France, but you can’t take the country outta the boy, huh Bill? I loved your last line.
    Thanks for the reminder on apples and potatoes. I think Broccoli is that way too, right?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Bill says:

      I’m not sure how pesticide residue on broccoli compares to other veggies. It isn’t on either of the EWG lists. When in doubt, I’d choose organic of course (local if possible).


  5. BeeHappee says:

    Have a great trip and enjoy the food!! The weather should be great there at this time. I was reading last night with my girl “A White Heron” by Sarah Orne Jewett and she once wrote: “To know the parish one must know the world”. So enjoy the travels. We had definitely enjoyed our last 5 months on wheels (and wings).
    I will be interested to hear your impressions on organic/ non-organic and food prices in Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Have fun! A well deserved rest for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Joanna says:

    Enjoy your trip Bill and Cherie. It will be interesting comparing markets in France to those in America

    Liked by 1 person

  8. thesnowwoman says:

    Have a great vacation!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Enjoy your vacation and break, Bill. –Curt

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Well deserved change of pace!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. allisonmohr says:

    Bon voyage. Hopefully you’ll make it to the Bastille market. It’s a good one.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Whenever possible… (Pour moi; )
    Grow your own.
    Buy local; )
    A bientôt, M’sieur! Bon voyage!


  13. Stacy says:

    It’s so hard to keep up with all of this stuff! I wish the “food” industry would just sell food, instead of poison that is passed off as food.

    Enjoy your vacation!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. avwalters says:

    Don’t know how I missed this post before. I’m a grow your own gal, but I have never ventured into onions. Next year I’ll try them–but it’s a relief to know I could pick them up at the grocery store without too much worry. 2010? I don’t believe they don’t have more recent data–I think, instead, that the market has caught on to the premium, and is too embarrassed to show how much wider it has grown.


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