Organic premium – who profits?

Why do we need organic food?

(As in the picture above of the beautiful stall from Somerset Organic Link, the farmers’ cooperative, at the Organic Food Festival last September).

What kind of topsy-turvy world do we live in that organic food has to be ring-fenced by regulations? Organic food should be the norm. It is food grown with chemicals that is the aberration!

NON-organic food should have to jump through all the hoops to be certified. Those that use the farm chemicals and potentially-harmful food additives should be paying extra in time and money to be regulated.

And people should pay more for the privilege: if industrial food factories had to pay for the damage they do – for instance polluting rivers and encouraging obesity – non-organic food would be very expensive indeed.

Instead it is organic food that attracts a “premium” (i.e. costs more).

Sometimes I wonder: Why? Who profits?

I include this letter from a farmer in the latest issue of Organic Farming which indicates that the profiteer is the supermarket.

“…If the Soil Association is serious [about challenging the public’s perception that organic is too expensive] it might do well to investigate the ongoing disparity between the supermarket shelf ‘premium’ and the ‘premium’ paid to farmers. Take lamb mince as an example: on 1 July 2010 Tesco was selling organic at £7.48/kg, compared to £5.74/kg for non-organic – that’s a difference of £1.74/kg or 23 per cent. Yet I am lucky to get a 5 per cent premium…..”

It’s annoying that eating organic often costs more (unless you are canny and take the extra effort to eat organic on a budget.)

It strikes me as grossly unfair that those of us who want to eat food – grown as nature intended – have to take more time, effort and money to do so.

What do you think?

6 responses to “Organic premium – who profits?

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Organic premium – who profits? | Real Food Lover -- Topsy.com

  2. I agree. I also take the farmer’s point about the premium paid for organics – and fairtrade too.
    The supermarkets assume that only the better off can afford to have a conscience about food or are prepared to pay any sort of premium, so they think it’s OK to milk them some more.
    They must love the fact that organics and fairtrade segment the market into consumers who are self-selecting ‘haves’ thereby enabling them to identify the prices to hike.
    They then get people with less money to buy more than they would by making them buy pre-packaged veg etc in bigger quantities than they would normally have bought, resulting in food waste.
    Nevertheless, it shouldn’t stop us doing what’s right, even if they won’t. Best of all, shop at your local greengrocers, butcher, baker etc etc…

    Like

    • Yes, good point, Paul – the self-selecting shop-with-a-conscience type (I include myself!) must be a godsend to supermarket buyers! All the more reason to give my custom to farmers and farm shops and small independent shops, methinks….

      Like

  3. Art od the Possible

    Organic and traditional agriculture gainfully employs many more people per acre than chemical agribusiness which substitutes cheap fossil fuels and throws people out of work. The problem here is that using up non-renewables like this is just too cheap at the moment, and it allows agribusiness to unfairly undercut sustainable agricultural methods.

    Another problem is the cost of organic certification. A small number of organisations have gained a monopoly over this process, and it is too expensive for many growers.

    Not surprisingly many growers are starting to look around for alternatives:

    http://www.wholesome-food.org.uk/

    http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/100/

    Like

  4. Art of the Possible

    Organic and traditional agriculture gainfully employs many more people per acre than chemical agribusiness which substitutes cheap fossil fuels and throws people out of work. The trouble is that using up non-renewables like this is just too cheap at the moment.

    Another problem is the cost of “organic” certification. A small number of organisations have gained a monopoly over this process, and it is too expensive for many growers.

    Not surprisingly many growers are starting to look around for alternatives:

    http://www.wholesome-food.org.uk/

    http://www.orionmagazine.org/index.php/articles/article/100/

    Like

  5. I am an Italian mother, wife, daughter, cook, cookery teacher and food writer, and I have always shopped organically, locally, seasonally and ethically. This recession, however, has hit everyone very badly, and we are all making big decisions about what to cut from our weekly food bills. Of course, in the ideal world we could all grow our vegetables organically, but it is not always possible. I agree, to feed your family organically is almost unaffordably expensive in a supermarket. Give as much money as possible to farm shops, markets and small traders. They are our future, and without them the supermarkets will have even more of a stronghold on the organic wallet. Well done Elisabeth on getting the debates going. All good wishes, Silvana.

    Like

What do YOU think? Do tell...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s