Hi, I was at the grocery store and did a bit of price comparison between organic and regular produce. Why are organic and healthy foods so expensive? –Janice

Hi Janice,

That is an excellent question. First of all, we do have to differentiate between “organic” and “healthy”. Organic is a designation which is regulated by various government agencies. Organic produce is generally grown at smaller farms, and has several restrictions on methods of growth. Organically grown produce cannot be sprayed with any artificial pesticides or fertilizers, cannot be genetically modified, and cannot use methods such as irradiation for processing. If a company labels a food “organic” dishonestly, it can be sued by the government, since there is a strict definition.

On the other hand, “healthy” is term that does not have a discrete meaning. Different food items can be healthy in different contexts. For example, after a workout, a dose of sugar may be “healthy” to help replenish muscle stores, but for a diabetic, the same sugar dose would obviously not be “healthy”.

The research is ambiguous as to whether organically grown produce has much of a benefit as compared to “regular” (conventionally grown) produce. In terms of nutrient (vitamins/minerals) concentration, there doesn’t seem to be a difference, but organically grown produce probably has less pesticide residues than their conventionally grown counterparts. This is a subject where more research is necessary in order to come to a more concrete conclusion. Organic foods are more expensive because, first of all, there is a market for them. Secondly, the growth methods may be more expensive, with less of a reliance on pesticides, and more use of integrative pest management. It is up to each individual to decide whether the increased prices are worth it.

However, “healthy” foods are not necessarily more expensive than “unhealthy” foods. For example, kale, which is one of the most nutritious foods available, costs $0.99/lb at my local grocery store. Bell peppers can very often be bought for $1.00 a piece, sweet potatoes are $1.25/lb, etc…

In conclusion, organic does not necessarily mean healthy, and healthy does not necessarily mean expensive.

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