I started a little experiment, looking at how much more expensive it would be just to eat organically grown food, as compared to buying the more affordable, better looking food, at my local grocer. The result is that I do pay a little more, adding about an extra five to ten dollars per month, but that largely depends on what was bought, and where. Shopping around, types of food bought, and quantities all play a factor when food shopping, I find. Rather than looking at organic meats, I instead just focused on vegetables becuase the availability and selection of meat products was poor at the markets that I shopped at.
The time period that I started this research was from January 25th to February 28, 2014, where I saved all of a my receipts, and made the switch from non-organic over to organic on February 15, 2014. Food prices around this time seemed relatively stable, and store inventories also seemed to stay the same in terms of where the food came from, and how long the stores kept them in stock. I used this method of buying becuase I was eating this food as I went, and thought that it would be unrealistic to buy both types of food becuase I also wanted to compare their quality, and nutritional value without compromising the risk of cross contamination (mixing them up in my fridge).
Choosing the right shopping market was a conscious decision, knowing that mislabelling of product does occur. For example, meat, as some grocers have been publicly shammed for not knowing where their meat came from, thus mislabelling some items. (See CBC Market Place) So I only shopped at outlets that I could trust: meaning that I knew people who were employed there, and that I could freely ask questions. Also, I cannot fully guarantee that even the foods that I bought in this time period were one-hundred percent accurate to the labelling.
Taste was the primary factor: was eating organic going to make my food taste better, over non-organically grown food? To be honest, I could not tell the difference on most of the vegetables that I had bought. However, broccoli had a noticeably different taste between the two groups that I could tell. The broccoli from the organic group had a better taste than the non organic group, and seemed to cook better.
The expectation that I am buying food with less, or no chemicals treated, during the growing process is the main reason for buying organic. Although this claim can not be fully guaranteed, the notion that organically grown food has been treated less, is a far better option than large scale agro-biz which treat their food for maximum yield harvesting with pesticides, and other growing agents. It seems that every vendor, producer and organization has a different variation of what “organic” is. Here in Canada, there does not seem to be a enforceable regulatory body that makes sure organically grown food is what it is. Instead, a farmer can meet the requirements, and then use the organic label. There seems to be no way to follow up to see if in fact that harvest is indeed what it is it claims to be.
It does cost more to eat organically grown food. However, since I was only feeding myself, and my servings were very moderate, the difference in cost was an increase of 4.27 percent on my overall food budget.
This is by no means a scientific study. I did not go all out, weighing each portion, testing each food items for its true authenticity; instead, I kept everything generalized. Only the cashier’s receipts were my only true variables that I relied upon in this study to do the comparison.