Is organic produce worth the higher price?
- Organic labeling on food in America dates back to 1990 when Congress passed the Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) as a means to establish national standards for organic food production. However, the rules were not finalized and implemented until 2002.
- According to a Pew Research survey 55% of respondents said that “organic fruits and vegetables are better for one’s health than conventionally grown produce.”
- Food scientist Harold McGee says that organic produce may taste better than conventional produce, “Because they’re not protected by pesticides, organic plants that suffer from insect attack can accumulate higher levels of flavor chemicals and other protective molecules, including antioxidants.”
- According to a Consumer Reports survey, Trader Joe’s, Wegmans, Costco, and Sprouts Farmers Markets all offered the cheapest overall prices on organic produce.
The benefits of organic foods extend far beyond the people buying and eating them. Sure, expanding research shows that when compared to conventional produce, organically-grown foods can offer health benefits. But additionally, organic farming as a whole aims to 'preserve natural resources, support animal health and welfare, and avoid most synthetic materials.' According to scientists, organic agriculture greatly benefits humans, as well as the environment.
Abstaining from the use of drugs, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides, purchasing organic animal feed, obtaining organic certification, and the many operational costs of running smaller, non-government-subsidized farms that do not mass produce ultimately all result in more labor-intensive and far more expensive farming practices.
Pesticides are linked to several serious health problems such as cancer, nerve damage, and birth defects. For everyone--especially young children and others who are particularly vulnerable, such as elderly people and expectant mothers--organic produce consumption is a simple method to reduce exposure to highly toxic 'OP pesticides.' Since rinsing is not an effective means to remove pesticide residue from conventional produce, the best way to lessen personal exposure to pesticides is to adopt an organic diet.
Often richer in nutrients and antioxidants than non-organic, organic produce is usually fresher, too, since the lack of preservatives doesn't unreasonably extend its shelf-life. With its higher production costs, as well as the numerous advantages over traditionally-grown produce as far as the environment and personal health and safety go, it's to be expected that organic produce will come at a deservedly higher price.
Many consumers do not entirely understand the labeling of organic products, often believing that they are getting a fully organic product without realizing the subtleties between the labels '100% organic,' 'organic,' and 'made with organic ingredients.' Without truly comprehending the labeling, people often run the risk of paying a higher price for something that is not as organic as they had been led to believe. Additionally, there isn't a robust monitoring agency to ensure that these labels are even accurate anyway.
While purchasing organic products does offer consumers the confidence that items were produced in a certain way--and with minimal environmental impact--organic labeling does not consider the carbon footprint associated with shipping. Someone may be inclined to buy an organic product because it was raised sustainably, but this benefit is often negated if it was then shipped across the nation in a truck. Also, organic labels do not address whether a product was grown in a biodiverse setting, a more sustainable agricultural movement currently gaining incredible traction.
The most obvious reason to skip the up-charge for organic produce may be the simplest: pesticides and other chemicals can easily be washed off food before consumption. While simply rinsing produce in cold water for thirty seconds is sufficient to remove most pesticides, those looking to remove all trace amounts can utilize a couple of easy techniques such as rinsing with salt water or vinegar. Misleading labeling, enlarged carbon footprints, and the ease of removing pesticides from food make paying for organic produce not worth the price.