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Cost and Significance

Why does organic cost more?

Prices for organic foods reflect many of the same costs as conventional foods in terms of growing, harvesting, transportation and storage. Organically produced foods must meet stricter regulations governing all these steps so the process is often more labor and management intensive, and farming tends to be on a smaller scale. There is also mounting evidence that if all the indirect costs of conventional food production (cleanup of polluted water, replacement of eroded soils, costs of health care for farmers and their workers) were factored into the price of food, organic foods would cost the same, or, more likely be cheaper.

Is organic food really a significant industry?

Approximately 1% of the US food supply is grown using organic methods. In 1996, this represented over $3.5 billion in retail sales. Over the past six years sales of organic products have shown an annual increase of at least 20%. Organic foods can be found at natural foods stores, health food sections and produce departments of supermarkets and at farmersí markets, as well as through grower direct-marketing such as C.S.A.s (Community Supported Agriculture). Many restaurant chefs across the country are using organic produce because they desire its superior quality and taste. Organic food is also gaining acceptance on a worldwide basis, with nations like Japan and Germany becoming important international organic food markets.

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