I have been groomed to be an “organic food snob.”
I munched on whole grain bread with organic peanut butter and jelly, organic apples and grapes as a 5-year old in the cafeteria. I had organic carrot cake for every birthday until I was 16 and trips to the local farmers market in my family were made more frequently than trips to any major supermarket.
So, today I guess that it is understandable that I feel very comfortable spending a significant part of my income buying groceries with the organic label on it. I am not ashamed to admit that I have driven across Lansing, Mich. for an hour looking for organic bananas and raspberries, which are not always available at the conventional grocery store here. I know that I could spend a lot less money, if I let go of my organic fetish, but it has simply become a habit, developed over many years.
But for many, organics are just too expensive. I can’t tell you the number of times this has been given as a response by my friends, who have kindly given me the knick name, “the organic foodie guru.”
Well, new information from the USDA’s Organic Agriculture Survey, explains why these prices are higher, and makes me feel a little better about spending approximately 50 percent of my income on organic food. Throughout the United States, production expenses for an organic farm in 2008 were more than $60,000 higher than a conventional farm. This is a pretty reasonable answer to why my raspberries and bananas cost me an extra $5 and a rebuttal to those who curse organic growers as being money hungry and discriminatory toward only higher classes.
On average, conventional US Farms spent $109,359, while organic farm expenditures were $171, 978. The numbers give reason for one of the main criticisms people have with organics.
The survey has also made me feel better about supporting my organic fetish in the Great Lakes area. The USDA has quantified the number of organic farms in each state, and many of the Great Lake states rank high nationally. In 2008, there were 14,540 farms throughout the country. Wisconsin ranks second, only next to California with 1,222. Michigan (461 farms), Minnesota (550 farms) and Ohio (547 farms) also rank in top places on a national scale.
I suppose I now have two new reasons to feel good about being called an “Organic Foodie Guru.” I am supporting the organic farms, which have to spend more for production while also supporting the region’s local food economy. Guess I am not such a snob after all.