Why is organic produce more expensive - interview with Eliza Altvater-Conn
Photo by Jonathan Kemper on Unsplash, and Dietitian & Food Scientist Eliza Altvater-Conn
Last week, Eliza Altvater-Conn, Food Scientist and Dietitian talked to us about the impact of our food system on our modern diets.
As she grew up on a farm in Brazil, a major global producer of food, we ask her what she thinks about organic produce and farming.
Most people recognise organic fresh produce as being better for us than conventional produce, but it's usually more expensive. Is this just a marketing ploy or is it actually more expensive for growers to farm organically?
Eliza: There are many factors influencing organic produce prices, including the basic supply and demand paradox. The perception of organic foods as healthier continues to grow and with that, the demand for these products has constantly increased. However, farmers did not adopt the approach at the same fast pace, and the limited supply by itself brings the prices up.
But if we think about the type of work done to grow organic foods- although to my knowledge there are no studies about this- I would bet organic foods costs are a better price to pay than conventional ones. Think about it, just by not making use of synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, organic farming is already preserving the soil, water, health of consumers and workers, biodiversity, and the environment in general, while conventional production does the complete opposite. Today, the term regenerative farming is becoming more and more mainstream. It’s a farming approach used to restore the damage to the soil and the environment caused by conventional agriculture, and for me, degrading our resources is a high price to pay.
Organic farming does require more intense labor, especially to eradicate weeds. They also use cover crops to help with the nitrogen balance, which generates costs that conventional production doesn’t have. In addition, organic labels require extra certification costs. All this does not mean that organic farming solves all our environmental and food scarcity problems, but at least, it is a step further towards the improvement of our broken food system. If we add this all when comparing organic to conventional production, organic brings much more value to the table.
Next week Eliza enlightens us on Unconventional Food Plants and why they're so important to our global food system.