Tackling the cost of organic food

food-healthy-vegetables-potatoesOne of the themes we will explore at The Real Food Chain is the relatively high cost of organic foods. We want to know how to get around this problem, how we can boost our health without having to spend too much money. In doing so we ask the very real questions: Why are organic foods more expensive? Why can’t people do their food shopping each week for no or little extra cost than a basket of sprayed veggies? What are the options to save money?

As anyone who has shopped will say, it is often the case that true organic food comes with a premium that pushes it out of the range of ordinary folk, no matter how much they want to improve their family’s diet. Shopping for the week’s meat, fruit and veggies would seem only be the preserve of the well-to-do unless you live on an organic farm. This may be overstating the point a bit but it contains a germ of truth!

Research conducted in Hobart in 2008 gives an indication of the difference between a basket of groceries bought at supermarkets and that purchased at an organic grocery store. According to the ABC, the price difference between the organic fruit and veggies and supermarket bought varieties was a significant 32 percent.

“…the basket of organic goodies tallied up $13.36 more than the non-organic supermarket variety…(final basket tally – supermarket: $27.84; grocery store: $29.34; and organic supplier: $41.20).”

Multiply this extra expense each week of the year and families on a budget (all of us really) find that shopping for the healthiest food becomes too expensive. Of course it may be that people may be willing to spend more for organic produce — goods they know are better for them. But what of the shopper to whom paying more is not an option: the single mother on a pension, the elderly, the disabled and those with a limited shopping budget for financial reasons.

Why shouldn’t buying clean, healthy, unadulterated food be within the financial reach of everyone? Isn’t this an Australian’s birthright down through the ages? Of course our forebears didn’t call it organic food, they just described it as the food that graced their plates. Nor should we. The real “abnormal” food is the chemically-sprayed veggies and meat that dominate the fruit and veg sections of our supermarkets. That which is allegedly causing the dietary and health problems that we see today.

Whether or not an improved diet eating real foods — those foods our grandparents ate — will rid us of obesity in our society is still being debated. However it stands to reason, at least to us here at The Real Food Chain, that a diet as close to being free of chemicals is healthier. Though research is building to show that organic food is more nutritious but common sense would suggest the more chemicals you avoid means a healthier you.

While impossible to eliminate all the chemicals that exist in our society, making an attempt to improve our diets and those of our family will surely give our health a boost?

However many true organic producers will point to the fact that fewer chemicals means using more expensive labour to tend crops as well as the fact that organic crops may grow more slowly than chemical crops due to the non-use of chemical growth additives. They will point to the cost of organic crops as being closer to the “true” cost of growing food.

As the Australian Organic Food Directory explains: “Food prices reflect the costs of growing, harvesting, transportation, storage, processing and packaging. To be certified organic food must meet stricter regulations that govern all these steps in the process. Organic food production is usually more labour and management intensive and happens on a smaller scale ie on smaller farms which lack the benefit of economy of scale.”

All fair points and our articles will address both sides where we think it warrants attention.

Where there are problems though, solutions beckon. For example growing your own fruit and veggies, shopping at co-ops, getting produce online, from the farmer’s gate and many more. We’ll be looking at these and more and offering suggestions as to how you can bring down your weekly organic fruit and veggie bill.

In the meantime though we’d love to hear from you. What would you like us to cover in The Real Food Chain? Are there any organic food, lifestyle questions you’d like to see answered on our website and social media. We strongly encourage you to have an input and be part of our community.

It’s only then that we can learn and experience together and make our humble world a better, healthier place. Welcome to The Real Food Chain.

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