Friday, July 11, 2008

Long day

See, you don't realize quite what a long day it's been until you notice that it's 7pm and you've been up for more than twelve hours and you still want to go see WALL-E tonight... (yes, run-on sentence.)

So here's my question of the day: Why is organic food so much more expensive than regular food?

This comes about because one of my great pleasures in life is currently sorbet. And I have been searching for newer and more interesting flavors of sorbet, lately, because there's only so much lemon italian ices that you can eat before you get totally sick of them. And one of the best places to find dairy-free sorbets (which by definition SHOULD be dairy-free, but I digress; sherbet can have dairy in it) is the organic food section.

And so far, I've had some good luck, including this wonderful goat ice cream that I can eat because goat ice cream? IT DOESN'T HAVE AS MUCH LACTOSE AS COW ICE CREAM. Or rather ice cream made from cow's milk. It is one of the best inventions in the world, largely because it is ice cream I can digest that tastes like regular ice cream.

But, back to sorbet. I found this nice organic sorbet. It was made by a local company in NJ. It was orange flavored; I rejoiced, as I've been trying to find the blood orange sorbet I tried in TN for about a week now, and this was the closest I had come. And look, the company made a few other flavors too. I threw several yummy looking ones in the cart.

And then I realized it cost $7.99 for ONE PINT OF ORANGE SORBET. How the hell can you justify charging that much for sorbet? Can somebody please explain this to me? Did the oranges get bathed in purified water before being juiced? Were they blessed by the organic fairy of goodness? Was it imported from the moon?

Seriously, end of rant. But real question: Why is organic food so much more expensive than regular food?


Libby Loo said...

Ugh. I hear you! I have a family of four, and I'm also a full-time student so we're living on one income. Needless to say, I can't spend $4 on an apple, let alone enough apples to keep us happy for a week! We used to have a milk service that sold and delivered organic all natural milk but when the prices spiked to almost $6/gallon we had to take our chances with the regular stuff. We just can't do it right now.

I don't know if they have these on the east coast, but here in the west we have a chain called King Soopers (Krogers/City Market) which has come out with their own brand of organics. So far it's really good and I hope they beef up the line because the prices are comparable to regular non-organic lines! I think Wal-Mart is working on something similar, and Safeway as well.

Sorry, that didn't answer your question, but at least you know there's someone else who's ranting along with you!

Sienna said...

Actually, I have a logical answer to this! Really! Organic foods cost more because of supply and demand, and because it's actually cheaper to produce foods with chemicals sometimes. Crazy I know, but true.

On another note, you might try a Whole Foods store. They have their 365 line, and it's pretty good. I'm pretty sure there are probably some around you, and they're normally cheaper. Also, try Soy Delicious! They make Purely Decadent ice cream. It's around the same price as a pint of Ben & Jerry's here. It's vegan. milk, no lactose! It's great! I love the Rocky Road. Also, try Acai sorbet. It is so good. I don't know who makes it, but it comes in a lime green container with purple writing. :)

Anonymous said...

From what I've learned, free range animals aren't given any growth hormones so it takes longer to fatten them up. They are also given higher quality feed. I think the veggies are along the same line. No Miracle Grow here. It is more expensive, but you can taste the difference.

Jenny Rappaport said...

sienna, I have tried the exact Acai sorbet you're talking about! I wasn't thrilled with it, but I think this is my general like of all things berry. It's Chris' sorbet to eat now.

In the meantime, Haagan-Daaz had 4 sorbet pints for $10 today, so we now own, um, 8 pints of Haagan-Daaz, one partially-eaten pint of goat ice cream, the Acai sorbet I don't like, one already started pint of Haagan-Daaz peach, one already started pint of Wegman's Green Apple sorbet (which tastes like a green Jolly Rancher), and I think that's it... we're pretty set for the next few weeks. =)

Anna M. Lewis said...

Ummm... I have to add that the particular Blood Orange Sherbet you are looking for was on Oprah's Favorite things list this year. That flavor is always low at our local high-end grocery store.

My daughter found my stash... it's now her favorite flavor/ice cream.

Anonymous said...

People will pay more, so shops charge more.


Elissa M said...

It honestly costs more to produce officially organic foods. Much, much more.

Many foods can be grown at home, even if you live in an apartment. Container gardening is very popular. If you grow it yourself, you know exactly what's gone into its production.

Many municipalities allow the keeping of chickens for personal egg production. I've also known people who kept their own dairy goats for the same lactose related reasons Jenny can't have cow's milk. Obviously not something a city slicker can do.

For people who truly want organic food, I highly recommend looking into self-production. If you think it's too much trouble, well then, now you know why organic foods are expensive.

Sprizouse said...

As a corporate muckety-muck and business student, I have a few explanations. The popularity of "organic" or "natural" foods has exploded in the past few years, which is the main reason the price is skyrocketing. But corporations also know how to capitalize on that demand.

A Harvard Business study showed that when food was given an "organic" label or when products were given a "fair trade" label, sales jumped. When the researchers increased the price of the labeled products, sales jumped even more.

Most consumers believe these products are better for them or are less damaging to the environment and (as the study showed) they're willing to pay higher prices for these products.

But either way, the current organic food craze is not all it's cracked up to be. For instance, irradiated foods are much healthier for you than non-irradiated foods, but consumers prefer foods with organic label because irradiated almost has the scary word "radiation" in it.

Foods labeled "natural" by USDA standards need only be made of 51% natural ingredients... as opposed to "artificial" foods which comprise everything lower than 51%.

I could go on and on, but Barry Glassner wrote an interesting little book about all this that I highly recommend. It covers organic food, natural food, labeling, dieting and all the food myths out there. It's an easy and illuminating read for anyone who's interested.

Rachel said...

Soy and Co has a really yummy Swiss Dark Chocolate Soy Fro-Yo. It tastes like frozen Brownie Batter (Joy of Cooking recipe). I got it from Whole Foods, and it was a good bit cheaper than the Goat Ice Cream (although also yummy). For a better price on organicy stuff, try Trader Joe's. They have a smaller selection, but routinely beat Whole Foods prices.

Jenny Rappaport said...

I have neither a Whole Foods nor a Trader Joe's within a decent driving distance of my house, alas. I'd have to go about 15-20 miles each way, to get food at either store. With gas prices being what they are, it's not worth it at all.

Anonymous said...

quite simply it is supply and demand. i work with biodynamic wineries, which are far easier to run than ones needing poisons, irrigation, etc... but due to the demand, the price goes up.

i hate to say it, but the whole organic/green/huggy earth thing is driving the cost, and the market is glad to pay, citing good deed for the day when they chomp into their bio/eco/organic greens.

Beki said...

Because consumers who worry about the origin of their food traditionally have the disposable income to afford it?

What can I say? You can take a girl out of strategic marketing, but you can never take strategic marketing out of a girl. ;)