A couple weeks ago, I discussed the benefits and costs of juicing fruits and vegetables, and I realized that people are more and more concerned with what they put in their bodies. Certain unhealthy foods can cause damage to your body in the short and long term, so it’s only natural that the organic food versus non-organic food debate rages on.
Does it really make a difference for your health? Let’s take some time to discuss this today.
The Basics on Organics
Organic farming has been around for some time, but was pushed out by rapid population growth in the middle of the 20th century. The result is the modern day farm, where most foods can pretty much be classified as “engineered.”
In these non-organic farms, most crops are sprayed with pesticides to prevent diseases, and most animals are given growth hormones so they grow faster and produce more food. Pesticides have been linked to brain defects in humans if levels are too high. Hormones given to animals can remain in their manure and cause contamination of the groundwater.
Organic foods don’t have these problems, as chemicals are avoided and hormones are nearly nonexistent. In order to get the USDA Organic seal, organic foods must be made with at least 95% organic ingredients.
The evidence quite clearly points to the fact that organic foods are safer, but since the health benefits are hard to quantify, it’s difficult to put a monetary value on the benefits.
Is it Worth the Cost?
There are health benefits to buying organic, but is it worth the steep cost? On average, organic foods cost around 20% more (varies greatly by area). Is this justified?
My fiancée and I spend about $300 a month on food. We shop at a conventional grocery store and buy mostly non-organic products. We’ve recently been talking about buying our food at an all-organic grocery store.
It would cost us over $700 more per year to shop completely organic. As an economics major in college, I always think in terms of utility. Organic food would have to make my fiancée and me at least $700 healthier in order to pay off.
What’s Best For You?
On a macro level, it appears that non-organic farming arose out of a need for more food. Some claim that if all farms were organic, the yields would be too small and we’d have a food shortage. Too much conventional farming, though, could lead to contaminated groundwater. It’s obviously a delicate balance that society will hopefully address sooner rather than later.
On the micro level, it comes down to your choices. The cost of organic food varies from place to place. Is the extra cost worth the health benefits? Supporting organic food can also lead to a cleaner environment for everyone, but how do you actually put a value on something like that?
My fiancée and I will most likely continue shopping in the same way. We buy healthy foods, but can’t afford to pay a steep price to shop all organic.
What’s your opinion when it comes to organic foods? Do you buy organic? Can you afford the extra expense?