Why is organic food so expensive?
Many of us will have new recipe books sitting on the shelf after the Christmas period – a whole new collection of recipes for us to try and enjoy over the coming year. Most of us will be trying to have a reasonably healthy start to the year, and want to get the most out of our food. One of the best ways to ensure your food is as natural and full of nutrients as possible is to buy organic, but the cost can sometimes be prohibitive. So, why is organic food so expensive?
Firstly, growing organically means there’s more manual labour involved. Farmers use chemicals to get rid of weeds and clean polluted water; without them all those jobs need to be done by hand, so the labour costs go up on organic farms. In some ways this reflects the true cost of food production, but it ends up hitting consumers in the pocket.
Similarly chemical fertilisers and sewage are cheap fertilisers used by non-organic farmers, whereas organic producers tend to go for compost and manure, which is more expensive to transport.
Organic production also tends to be smaller scale and farmers are working with smaller volumes of crops. They also need to rotate their crops, meaning that at any given time up to 25% of their land may be fallow to increase the natural soil fertility. All of these factors help to drive up the costs.
However another factor is that mass-produced, non-organic produce is subsidised by the tax-payer to a much higher degree than organic farming. This helps to create the impression that organic food is significantly more expensive, when it is actually your hard-earned income tax that is helping to keep the price of non-organic food artificially low.
There are more reasons, of course, but one thing is certain – consumers hold the ultimate power. If the demand for organic produce continues to increase, the costs will come down.