Organic Consumers Association

Campaigning for health, justice, sustainability, peace, and democracy

Organic Food is Actually Cheaper than Conventional (Yes, Really!)

When you talk to folks who haven’t yet switched to organic, one of their most oft-stated reasons is the price. “I just can’t afford to buy organic food,” they’ll say. “It’s too expensive.”

And we get it – we really do. When you’re feeding a large family – or even just yourself – switching from conventional to organic food can be a real adjustment. Sometimes, choosing organic over conventional can be the difference between going on vacation, buying a new pair of shoes, or even going to the movies in a given month.

But a new study from sustainability consultant Soil & More might change that perception: this company worked with accounting firm EY and organic fruit specialist Eosta to take a look at the true cost of food, and the results show that while the price tag of conventional may make it look cheaper in stores, the actual price of organics is far less – not just when it comes to agriculture and the environment, but also with regard to consumer health.

“Intensive farming – from monoculture to the large-scale use of pesticides – has led to a depletion of natural capital,” explains a news release from Eosta, “while current production methods continue to damage social capital, i.e. the welfare of communities.”

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the hidden negative impact of food production on natural and social capital amounts to over $5 trillion every year.

There’s More to the Price of Organic Food than Meets the Eye

The study, entitled “True Cost Accounting in Food, Farming, and Finance,” looked at nine different products from all over the world, including apples and pears from Argentina, citrus from South America and Africa, and pineapple from Costa Rica. Accountants calculated the true cost of the food, including the cost of water pollution, pesticide exposure, greenhouse gas emissions, and soil erosion, with data provided by the European Food and Safety Authority, Danish scientist Peter Fantke, and the EcoInvent database as well as the World Health Organization.

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