Ironically we live in a world where you have to pay substantially more to not food that is free of artificial chemicals. In this day and age, organic food is the gold standard. Unfortunately for most, organic foods are priced so high that it is inaccessible to the masses. By default, one must have a household income that substantially exceeds the national average of $62,175.
Organic food is incredibly expensive in comparison to conventional food. In fact, shopping at big name organic grocers can substantially increase a family’s monthly food cost. If given the financial latitude most families would choose organic. But what is it exactly, and why is it so expensive. This post will explore 7 facts about organic clean food.
People are increasingly becoming more aware that the conventional foods they eat are laden with toxins. One would think that package labels that have large healthy catch phrases plastered all across its front label are in fact true. Food regulations are laced with loopholes that allow for a number of artificial colors, flavors and preservatives to be exempt from regulation. Many are unaware that food manufacturers do not need approval for the chemicals that are added to conventional packaged foods (aka non-organic).
Regulations are so lax, that companies can simply declare that their packaged foods are safe, as they are not subject to investigation to confirm that their claim is correct. Simply put, the safety and overall health of conventional food relies on the honor system. Whereas, organic foods are subject to more keen regulation and oversight.
7 Facts About Why Organic Food is so Expensive
1). Organic food ingredients and additives must undergo and independent expert, and federal review.
2. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) estimates that at least 2,000 synthetic chemicals can be added to conventional packaged foods. Whereas, organic clean foods can not have ingredients that have a known a toxic effect on human health or the environment.
3. Synthetic (aka chemical) ingredients that are added to pre packaged organic foods must undergo both independent and federal review every five years. The continuous review helps to ensure that scientific data is frequently accessed for any new developments.
Scientific data is constantly evolving. Each year the knowledge base expands. What was thought to be healthy and environmentally friendly a few years ago, does not necessarily hold true for today.
Chemical preservatives help to preserve packaged food. This is the main reason why pre-packaged foods can have expiration dates that extend food viability by years. You will not find any chemical preservatives in organic food.
4. The taste of conventional foods are enhanced with chemicals that improve its flavor. This is achieved with upwards of 100 chemical flavor additives. These flavors do not have to be listed on the packaging, and can be made up of any of the 2,700 chemicals that are not regulated by the FDA.
These additives are approved by the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA). Keep in mind, that FEMA has been around for over 100 years, is not federally regulated, and largely influences regulation. This presents a potential conflict of interest.
Chemical flavors are not permitted in organic food. Only flavors that originate from natural, non-chemical based substances can be classified as organic.
5. Synthetic colors are not allowed in organic foods. Unlike flavors and preservatives, the FDA does regulate color additives. You may ask yourself, why are colors added to packaged foods. Well, colors heavily influence a person’s attraction to food.
Certain colors are more appealing than others. Company’s use this knowledge to make food more appealing to consumers. Digestion leads to the breakdown of the flavor chemicals, resulting in the release of toxic by-products which have ill health effects.
In fact, a 2010 FDA report, found that “certain food additives may exacerbate hyperactive behaviors in some groups of children.”
6. Organic foods are as equally concerned with human health as well as the environment. The manufacturing and disposal of organic food must not pose a risk to the environment. Preserving human and environmental health is key to maintaining the planet.
So much of what we consume is recycled into the environment. Everything we eat is digested and eliminated into the environment. We must not just think of health as a singular concept as It goes hand in hand with the environment.
7. Fewer than 40 synthetic additives can be used in organic packaged foods. Chemical ingredients are meticulously scrutinized. Once reviewed and approved by both independent and federal experts, it is added to an official registry, that keeps tally of all approved substances.
This list is re-evaluated every 5 years by the National Organic Standards board. This is a perfect example of the importance of continuous review. Interestingly, for the past 11 years, only 72 additives have been removed or restricted, whereas 6 substances have be approved.
Unlike conventional food, organic foods must go through meticulous scrutiny to become certified organic. This process is extremely costly. Consequently, companies must pass this cost along to the consumer. This exponentially drives up cost, and accounts for the disproportionate price difference between conventional and organic food.
From a business perspective, it makes sense that companies price organic food at a cost that enables them to recuperate their investment to make a profit. However, from a human perspective, it is unfortunate that having access to clean organic food is a privilege and not a human right. Ideally your access to clean organic healthy foods should not be determined by your socio-economic status.