Price Still a Big Negative for Healthy Food

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USDA_organic_seal Bad world economy or not, recession in the U.S. or not, one thing just does not seem to change.  The, (sometimes insane), price of ethically produced or organic food often prevents 90% of people from buying what they want.  I have written about this several times, once specifically in this post:  Organic Food Prices Cause Indigestion.  I consider myself pretty well educated about the reasons for higher prices for ethical food, but I encountered a price difference last week that surprised even me.  I was shopping at one of our local large grocers, Fred Meyer.  Now FM is actually a pretty good store by any standard in terms of availability of organic food of all kinds so I am not picking on them.  I was looking at the store’s selection of meat and was shocked by the price difference between organic and conventional steaks.  One cut of conventionally produced steak was priced at 6.99 a pound.  There were even some of these cuts in the mark down cooler for 5.49 a pound.  The same cut in the organic section was…… 15.99 per pound!   This is almost 3 times higher than the conventional steak!!!

Now FM has a very small selection of organic beef, most likely because at that price they sell very little.  It is produced by “Private Selection”, which I think is a Kroger, (FM parent company), product.  Many of the Private Selection products are priced competitively when compared to other products of the same type.  The meat, however, is another story.  This organic beef was not even grass fed.  The only difference according to a pamphlet on the shelf with the steaks is the following:

“The animal feed is certified wholly organic, with no animal by-products, synthetic fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, or GMO’s”

Well that is all a good start, but does it really justify charging 3 times as much for a product?  I have been told I am wrong, but I have stated many times that I thing some of these stores see organic food as a high margin, specialty food and as such mark it up to extortionist prices.  Even I would not have paid $16 a pound for that steak.  And I bet 99.9% of other shoppers would not either.

The case can be made that much of the food supply in the U.S. is available at artificially low prices because of the mechanized, high chemical means of producing it.  But if 5.99 per pound for steak is artificially low, then 15.99 per pound is artificially high.  Until pricing of organic meat becomes realistic it will not sell and that is a shame.

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Will Sig
1 Anna

Hey Will I know what you mean about the prices. Once I picked up four apples, and to my surprise at the counter they almost cost me 16 dollars. I didn’t buy it, I just rather go and pick some from my parents garden then. But in general the prices of produce went up, we see a lot in potatoes. Anna 🙂
.-= Anna´s last blog ..Chickadee Little The Kung Fu Master =-.

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2 Linda Prout

You’re right, finding decent healthy food at an affordable price can be frustrating. I find i have become a part-time to full-time food investigator in order to know how to buy real and sustainable food at an affordable price. I buy grass fed meat from local farmers near me for $3.50-7 per pound. I also know New Zealand meat is better than most “organic” here and FAR cheaper, so that is an option. I prefer to buy local but until the government stops making it impossible for local ranchers to turn a profit with sustainable, grass-fed meat, we can either buy from another country or get involved with our own food production on some level.

You can find ranchers willing to do a cow or lamb share where you buy a portion of a sustainably-raised grass fed animal. When a rancher does not have to jump through the burocratic hoops to be called “organic” and just raises his or her animals on real GRASS, the animal will be as good or better than large feedlot “organic” meat and at a lower cost. But, this requires research to find.

You can not just go to the local grocery and expect to find affordable real food. You need to look OUTSIDE the usual food box. Farmer’s markets, contacting local farmers direct, growing your own, bartering….

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3 Will

Hi Linda, Thanks for the great comment. And for those of us that do go to the local markets and farm stands, we find lots of what we want. Like right now all the local organic peaches! As far as what you say:

“You can not just go to the local grocery and expect to find affordable real food. You need to look OUTSIDE the usual food box. Farmer’s markets, contacting local farmers direct, growing your own, bartering….”

Unfortunately this is true. But until it is not true, 99.9% of the grocery buying public will not buy healthy, sustainable food. And this type of food will continue to be seen by most people as elitist and expensive and unavailable. That’s what annoys me.

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4 Wilson Pon

Will, the reason why the organic steak is three times expensive than the conventional steak, as it mostly used the organic style to feed the cows. However, it would be better, if the price of organic steak can be cheaper…

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5 Tom Fiberbend

Governments put money in to all kinds of industries, why not give a boost to health foods – they win on all accounts espesically when there are less people suffering from health problems.
.-= Tom Fiberbend´s last blog

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6 Bob

3 times as much is crazy talk, I would like to see the actual bottom line, the cost to FM, to see where the mark up is coming from.
.-= Bob´s last blog ..The Galileoscopes Have Arrived =-.

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7 Will

Hey Bob – Welcome back. Hope your trip to China was a great time. Some kids from here went last month and got stuck in quarantine there because a couple tested positive for the Swine Flu.

It is crazy. I just bought a steak this morning at a local farm stand. It is from a local grower, organic AND grass fed. Still 9.99 per pound, but much better than FM. I wish I could find a source like Linda has at 3.50 to 7.00 lb.

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