I am a survey junkie. I love when pollsters probe public opinions about this and that.
One recent survey particularly caught my attention because it revealed what people think about organic food.
More than half of the people surveyed said that the organic label provided companies with an excuse to charge more, and nearly four out of ten people said the organic label had no real value.
Let me tackle the “no real value” argument first. Hardly a week passes without some news story emerging on the damaging impact of synthetic pesticides, antibiotics and growth hormones in agriculture. Just last week, the White House formed a task force to address the alarming collapse of honeybees in the United States. That collapse is being directly linked to synthetic pesticides. At the same time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is proposing new rules to monitor the use of antibiotics in agriculture because of the growing evidence that this widespread use is contributing to the rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria impacting our personal health.
Troubling stuff, to be sure. And, the best way to know that we are protecting honeybees, and Monarch Butterflies, and to know that we are reducing the exposure to antibiotics and growth hormones, is to buy organic food.
Now, for the higher prices part of the story.
Organic food has traditionally been more expensive because of a number of factors. In farming, growing organic crops and livestock takes more time and management. But the farmer only receives 18 cents of a shopper’s food dollar. The major causes of higher priced organic food occurs after the products left the farmers’ fields.
Fortunately, companies like Wild Oats are developing processing and distribution systems to keep those costs low. And, initiatives to increase the amount of organic land, and the number of organic farmers, will help bring more affordable organic food to the marketplace.
I just hope that soon, a survey will find that most people know that organic food is affordable for their families.