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Your Take: Do You Pay More for Organic?

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What Are Organic Products? SignWhen it comes to organic products, I’m conflicted. On one hand, I love our planet and do as much as I reasonably can to preserve it. We didn’t carpool much but we did when only mildly inconvenient, follow the mantra of reduce, reuse, and recycle (in that order) and we conserve energy and water use around as much as possible.

But I’m conflicted about organic foods. Until a few months ago, the price disparity between a “regular” product and its organic counterpart was significant. You were talking larger than double digit percentage differences for products that, in some cases, weren’t very different. There have been articles on which fruits and vegetables benefit the most from pesticide-free growth and how some organic vegetables, while smaller, pack more nutritional punch.

But my frugal upbringing brain always runs into my Vulcan-blooded heart (* Star Trek nerds will get the reference) and I find myself only getting organic when it’s a little more expensive.

What do we buy organic? On a regular basis, we buy half & half creamer and eggs from our local Trader Joes and we recently purchased organic skim milk from Giant. In those cases, the creamer and the milk prices were very close (single digit differences) in price. The egg price differences were a little higher but I abhor those Styrofoam egg containers and prefer the cardboard.

Ultimately, we don’t buy that much milk, creamer and eggs for those small price differences to affect us. One category I find it difficult to overpay on is meat. Organically grown beef and chicken is significantly higher in price than its regular counter parts, again it’s the frugal brain running smash into the heart that has seen slaughterhouse videos.

How about you? Do you buy organic products whenever possible, paying the potential premium? Do you do it for the health benefits or the environmental benefits?

(* Vulcans in Star Trek have green blood, I wasn’t referring to their emotion suppression :) )

(Photo by debaird)

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9 Responses to “Your Take: Do You Pay More for Organic?”

  1. A.J. says:

    Like you mentioned, for some fruits and vegetables, it makes more sense to buy organic. For instance, strawberries have very thin skin and are more likely to absorb pesticides than something with a thick tough skin like an avocado.

    http://gourmetfood.about.com/od/slowfoodorganiclocal/a/organicproduce_2.htm

    I think of it as an ROI thing, but I don’t always buy organic, even for those thin-skinned fruits.

  2. Trish says:

    I buy organic for health reasons and also because it often tastes better. I’ve found that bananas, for example, taste MUCH better. Strawberries too.

    With regard to meat, beef just hasn’t tasted great to me in years. Too much chemicals, hormones, genetic altering? I don’t know what’s changed the taste, but I now feel it just isn’t worth the calories (and I used to be a HUGE beef lover). I’ve now switched to buffalo. It’s not as gamey as I expected, has a lot less fat, and tastes great.

    I’ve been hearing lots of stories lately about pesticides being linked to cancers, so I’m trying to cut down on that as much as possible in my diet. We grow our own organic vegetables too. That helps balance out the cost of having to pay so much for them in the winter months.

  3. Jason H says:

    When you read about how mass-market organics are grown it really makes the price premium moot. Most mass-market organics are grown the same as non-organics, in large industrialized farms, but without the use of chemicals. So in truth organics should be cheaper because they didn’t have to use all the oil-based chemicals. Read Michael Pollen’s “In Defense of Food” and it will change your view of organics.

    That being said, I’m more willing to buy organic from non-certified local farmers where I can go visit the farm and watch how the grow the food and how they take care of the land.

  4. Jeremy says:

    I only buy organic if there is little or no price premium. Our store has quite a bit of produce in the organic variety that is exactly the same as non-organic, so there isn’t a hard choice to make there. But I’m certainly not going to go out of my way to spend twice as much on something just because some pretentious hippie says I should.

  5. Jadin says:

    Love Farmers’ Market organic produce because it is fresh, generally harvested at perfection. We find we have much less waste when buying there.
    As far as meats, I, too, am conflicted. Poultry for sure, I try to get the free range, humanely raised version. Beef: there is a HUGE cost difference, as well as accessibility. We’re opting for using less, but if I think about it too hard, I would have to opt for humanely raised cows/beef, too.
    Actually, when I think about it too hard, I go on a vegetarian binge!
    I remember reading “The Jungle” by Upton Sinclair as a kid. Eckkk!

  6. Elsie says:

    Yay for geeky ST references!

    My family generally is more concerned about buying organic meats, eggs, and dairy, but we’ll also sometimes buy organic produce, especially the kinds that are exposed to more pesticides. With canned foods, I don’t bother, for price reasons.

  7. Patrick says:

    I tend to agree that I will only buy organic if it is a little more expensive. I get most of my produce at my local farmers’ market where I can ask how they grew the food and see for myself just how fresh it is. As for meats, I want to start looking into finding a local farmer or butcher that has locally raised and free-roaming meats.

  8. I buy organic for a lot of things. Sometimes it’s significantly more expensive (particularly with meat), sometimes it’s exactly the same – this happens most with produce (organic and conventional strawberries were exactly the same price at Trader Joe’s yesterday).

    I buy organic milk for my son, and RBST-free dairy products for everything else. Thank goodness for Trader Joe’s, where RBST-free products are standard and comparably priced to conventional products at the big chain grocery store.

    Generally, I try to buy organic or hormone/antibiotic-free dairy and meat, unless the price difference is outrageous (for me, that means twice as expensive). I also buy organic produce when it’s in the “risky” category, i.e., on the list of produce that retains a lot of pesticides.

    Of course, I also try to avoid products with trans fats and artificial sweeteners, particularly if my young children are going to eat it. I think it’s worth paying a premium to keep unnecessary chemicals out of their bodies for as long as possible, especially while they’re growing.

    My grocery bill is a lot higher than it could be, so I am cutting back on the amount of meat that we eat. But I don’t plan on changing my shopping habits too much.

  9. billyakerman says:

    We try to buy organics whenever possible. Unfortunately, it does cost quite a bit more. Fruits & veggies do taste better.


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