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"Cost in Translation"

Seriously, now — why aren't organics getting affordable?

Christy Harrison
25 Aug 2005
Full article

So you like whole-grain bread, pesticide-free plums, and low-fat meat? Better ask for a raise.

A recent study by researchers at the University of California-Davis reported that U.S. shoppers who consistently choose healthy foods spend nearly 20 percent more on groceries. The study also said the higher price of these healthier choices can consume 35 to 40 percent of a low-income family's grocery budget. That's bad news for public health. It's also bad news for the organic-food market, since organics usually carry the highest price tag of all the healthy stuff out there.

Eventually, analysts keep telling us, demand for organics will set the wheels in motion that will drive prices down. But eventually never seems to come. Even though organics sales are growing by about 20 percent a year -- almost 10 times the rate of increase in total U.S. food sales, according to the Nutrition Business Journal -- these cleaner, greener products still carry a hefty premium.

How many shoppers have to jump on the organic bandwagon before we actually see prices fall? How long will that take? And what's the government's role in all this? It depends who you ask.

» Read the full article at Grist

I highly recommend reading the public feedback in response to the article.