by Ysanne Spevack
Organic food is generally more expensive than intensively-farmed food. Ysanne Spevack investigates why we pay more for foods grown without chemicals, and when they will get cheaper.
Organic food is better for you and your family. It contains more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and taste than intensively farmed produce. It is also free from insecticides, pesticides, growth hormones, antibiotics, fertilisers and a whole host of other toxic artificial additives, flavourings, colourings and preservatives. So if it contains less added chemicals, why does it cost more?
At first glance, you might expect organic food to cost less to produce than foods with added extras. However, it’s a lot more complex than that. The main reason that intensively farmed foods are cheaper to buy in the shops is that you are paying for them in your taxes. Agrochemical agriculture is heavily subsidised by the taxpayer through the government, whereas organic farming receives no subsidies at all. This ludicrous situation dates back to the aftermath of World War II. The governments of the day needed to ensure that the severe food shortages of the war never happened again. Starvation and famine in Europe urgently needed to be protected against, and the new chemical technologies of the 1950’s seemed like a gift. One of the first things that the united European governments did was to encourage an abundance of foods by subsidising the use of chemicals in farming.
Another crucial reason why organic food is more expensive to buy than intensively-farmed food is that agrochemicals are designed to make food cheaper to produce. Agrochemicals were not developed with nutrition, taste or the ecology in mind.(And someone told me once the world is not a crazy place) The chemical designers’ remit was to make mass production of food cheaper. End of story. So what we get is a cheap but inferior product. Given the choice of buying an organic apple or an intensively produced apple, and I know which one I’d prefer any day. I may have to pay up to 5p more for the organic apple, but it will be juicier, have a more appetising texture and aroma, and will generally be more tasty. It will be packed with up to 60% more vitamins, minerals, enzymes and trace nutrients, and be free from a cocktail of up to 40 different chemicals, waxes and insecticides. It will be an interesting variety, produced by a farmer committed to fine food, and it will have left the tree in a meadow with healthy soil and filled with a diversity of butterflies, lady birds, birds and countryside wildlife. So my extra 5p will have been well spent, ‘cos me and my home planet are worth it!
VERY,VERY,VERY WELL SAID..
There are experts that say that organic food is actually cheaper to produce than intensively farmed foods. Sounds crazy? Well read on…
Professor Jules Pretty is professor for Environment and Society at Essex University. He has been looking at the hidden costs of intensive farming for many years.
The consumer pays three times when they buy intensively farmed food. Firstly, they pay at the shop till. Next, they pay for the same food through their taxes, as modern farming is subsidised through the tax system. Thirdly, the consumer pays again to clean up the damage to the environment caused during the growing and the raising of the food.
Farming subsidies cost the UK taxpayer about £3 billion pounds every year. We then spend an estimated £2.3 billion every year cleaning up the ecosystem. The expenses for the aftermath of agrochemicals are far reaching. The government spends £120 million of taxpayers’ money every year just to clean up pesticide residues from farming which pollute our water. These are effectively hidden subsidies from water consumers to polluters.
“The UK pesticide market is currently worth about £500 million every year. It is extraordinary that the cost of removing pesticides from drinking water amounts to a quarter of the market value — some £120 million annually,” says Professor Pretty.
Then there are the hidden costs to the nation, such as the BSE crisis. There were no cases in the UK of BSE in any organic farms. Although the current foot and mouth crisis can effect any kind of farm due to its windborn nature, BSE was exclusively a problem only in intensive farms. The cost to the NHS for treating agrochemical related problems is also fiendishly difficult to calculate. However, exponentially rising cases of asthma, cancers, heart disease and dietary disorders almost certainly have a link to poor diet, increased pollution and intensive farming techniques. Then there are the costs to wildlife, whose natural habitats are destroyed by intensive agriculture.
Again...VERY,VERY,VERY well said
And the future......
So, expect to continue paying a bit more for your organic food for some time to come. But let’s all live in hope that the powers that be listen up to Professor Pretty and the Soil Association so that we can all afford as much organic food as we want.
Now,if everyone on the site is not a full convert to organic produce they never will be..
When you want to remember how good organic produce is just think of mr organic bananna smilie
concrete wrote:I totally agree with organic farm (meaning no pesticides and chemical fertalizers) in practice.
But, you have to think. If the whole of the UK (I'm assuming you're from the UK) went to organic farming, you would either pay a load more for the food, or you would work on the farm that fed you.
I personally don't want to go back 500 yrs. nor do I want to pay alot more for my food. I'm too busy paying off government debt.
All farming on this planet started at one time being 'organic', but imagine if the UK went organic and the potato blight came here? Im sure someone would say 'It's only a fungicide, it only kills the fungus. Humans have nothing to worry about.'. Then it would start all over again.
With the way things are. 'Organic' farming on small scale is viable, hence the increased cost. I think ultimately, intensive farming will rule. The real quest, is finding natural products that help both intensive farming and the environment. The biggest thing I don't see happening anymore, is leaving fields to fallow.
That is one of the biggest soil killers.
I still think the best way forward to feed everyone on the planet is large scale organic farm production,THIS IS DOABLE...absolutely,if it is given the support from the general populus.
"Intensive farming" as a long term solution WILL NOT WORK...period...neither will GMO crops... ORGANIC FARMING IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO ....the less support we give the alternatives the more and more organic farming will expand,people will be buying and eating healthy food,generally making them feel better and thus the world a better place.Ok it's not the holy grail but you "catch my drift"...weighing up the long term food production of the planet it's not rocket science to see which one is best for man and mother nature alike...
So how many people on disclose are actually going to sign upto an organic box scheme in their area then
This is one area where we always agree, Doc.
- Jimmy Carl Black (the Indian of the group)
cornbread714 wrote:Another hidden cost in intensively-farmed food laced with all the crap is the health care cost that comes from eating poison.
This is one area where we always agree, Doc.
Glad to hear that m8 and thanks for accepting my freind request
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