Author ~ Evan Folger
“What does Organic really mean anyway?”
“Why is organic so important?”
“Why is organic food so much more expensive?”
“Why are your prices higher than other eateries?”
These are questions we often get and we thought we would answer them for you today. So let’s dive in!
What is organic?
Organic, as it relates to food, refers to the manner in which crops are treated throughout the farming cycle, as well as the materials with which they are treated. To be organic, the plant must be untreated and grown without aid: no pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers. Organic also encompasses being non-GMO, as genetically modified organisms are inherently non-organic due to the fact they require the spraying of pesticides and herbicides.
Why is organic food more expensive than non-organic?
Because organic crops are not produced with the aid of insect-killing chemicals, they require more labor and alternate practices to help them to reach maturity. This comparative “difficulty” in growing the crops means a higher market price. The great news is that the more of us that purchase organic, the more demand there is and the lower prices will go. We truly vote for what we want to see on the shelves each time we purchase food.
Why are our prices sometimes higher than other eateries?
To give you a quick example on what it means as an eatery to use organic ingredients, let’s look at the almonds we use:
We pay over twice as much for organic almonds than we would for conventionally farmed almonds, which equates to a little over $100 more for a 25 pound case than what the eatery down the road would pay. This cost factors into the many recipes we use almonds for: almond milk, granola, donuts, pizza, fudge, entrées, and more. This is by no means a problem unique to our supplier, but rather a single example of the incredibly high food costs which accompany organic foods.
Are you wondering why in the world we use organic ingredients when it’s clearly so much more expensive? There are a multitude of reasons why organic produce is healthier than conventional, so let’s dive into them.
Why is eating organic so important?
Cancer is now linked to glyphosate
Recent developments have linked the popular herbicide glyphosate, found in Roundup, to cancer. Monsanto is a multi-billion dollar chemical company that lost a recent lawsuit to one of its employees whom developed terminal cancer after working with glyphosates for years. The company was reported to have been aware of the dangers of glyphosate well before this case was brought about. This expresses the importance of prioritizing your own health – because enormous corporations won’t. They’re paid for producing large quantities of crops, and your long-term health doesn’t factor into that number.
Organic food benefits the planet
Not only is organic farming better for our bodies, but it’s better for our world. Organic farming eases the burden that we place on our soil, water, and even air with our extensive agriculture industry. One example is the cultural eutrophication of lakes and sea bays. This occurs when fertilizer runoff from farms leads into rivers that dump into lakes or bays, causing algae to overgrow in these water areas (like any other plant, algae reacts to fertilizers). The overgrown algal bloom overloads the water with nutrients from the overpopulated plant life, which alters the water’s composition and brings in excess sediments that create shallower waters. As is commonly the case in mother nature, tampering with one variable causes changes in many others: fish that inhabit deeper sections of the water are forced to move or die off, the fish that are prey of the deep water-residing fish become overpopulated due to losing their natural predator, and, on the human front, the area loses its value for water-related recreation such as boating or fishing. And if you can purchase from a local organic farmer, even better!
Organic food is better for the farm workers
Agriculture workers on conventional farms can face dangers such as poisoning, reproductive health problems, respiratory conditions, cancer, and more. Working so closely with chemicals that are engineered to kill organisms is unsurprisingly loaded with consequences for these individuals. There are also disorders that can be passed on to the children of the exposed workers, afflicting their families for decades to come. This is especially terrible because of the huge number of farmers exposed to these perils, as there are literally millions of farmers in America alone.
Organic food is better for the bees
Bees are a keystone species in many regions, as they are ultra-productive pollinators of endless plants. Neonicotinoids, a type of pesticide that is relatively new to the market, have been pointed out as a likely culprit for the decline in the bees’ populations. They are named after their chemical similarity to nicotine in regards to their effect on an organism’s nerves synapses – a blatant red flag. Chronologically, the introduction of this pesticide in farming use aligns with the sharp drop in the numbers of a certain once-prevalent species of bee, the Bombus affinis: both occurred in the early 1990s in the U.S. These pesticides are dangerous in that they are highly soluble in water. Although this attribute is looked at as an upside in the eyes of non-organic farmers, it is because of their ease of distribution that their potential threat is so serious. A pesticide so quickly and easily able to integrate into a microecosystem’s water cycle endangers the creatures that reside there, as virtually all animals and plants use water in some way to survive and reproduce.
Neonicotinoids are most notably known for their capability to harm bumblebees, specifically the Bombus affinis, a species native to North America. This type of bumble bee has experienced an astonishing 90% drop in its population over the past three decades, and this has been linked to being affected by neonicotinoids. It is a pollinator of many fruit-bearing plants that humans, birds, and other mammals eat. Furthermore, this highly important bee is especially susceptible to affliction from pesticides. They can even absorb harmful chemicals directly through their exoskeletons. Of course, without the pollinating services of bees, countless plant species may cease to survive in the future. This is yet another example of the fragility of our planet’s health.
Organic food is simply more nutrient-dense
One study measured the eating patterns of French citizens and used over 50,000 individuals. The study measured the risk of type II diabetes, hypertension (a.k.a. high blood pressure), and cardiovascular disease (the number one killer in the U.S.) among its participants. Regular consumers of organic food reported a lower risk for all three health detriments compared to non-regular consumers of organic food. The tens of thousands of people observed in this study were at a lower risk for three of the biggest health dangers in the developed. This cohort study was performed by NutriNet-Santé in 2015. The price of organic goods at the store or at a restaurant may seem unappealing, but the long-term costs to one’s health cannot be ignored.
Organic farming helps our crops help us. When plants aren’t loaded with pesticides and herbicides, they produce more phytonutrients to boost their own immune systems to grow in the face of weeds and insects. With high concentrations of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, these phytonutrients aid a person’s well-being in obvious ways.
Investing in what’s important
The benefits of organic food are rooted deeper than human health, sustainable economies within agriculture, or even animals’ well-being. Organic farming practices are crucial for our planet’s continuation as we know it. This is why we support the groups and establishments that promote, grow, buy, or sell organic foods. It is why we will grow our vegetables organically on our farm for the years to come, and why we buy as close to 100% of our produce organic as is fiscally feasible. It is our mission and our responsibility to serve only the best ingredients to further our customers towards wellness, and that wellness will always be invaluable.
Beyond being dedicated to using NON-GMO and organic ingredients, we also farm some of our produce and herbs ourselves. You can find out more about our small urban farm and how to volunteer here.
Interested in checking out some of our plant-based organic recipes? Sign up for our newsletter! Link on our homepage.
Thank you for reading and we hope to see you at the café!
- Anthony, K. (2018, January 2). Phytonutrients (N. Olsen & Healthline Media, Eds.). Retrieved from https://www.healthline.com/health/phytonutrients#outlook
- Baudry, J., Méjean, C., Péneau, S., Galan, P., Hercberg, S., Lairon, D., & Kesse-Guyot, E. (2015). Health and dietary traits of organic food consumers: Results from the NutriNet-Santé study. doi:10.1017/S0007114515003761
- BBC. “Weedkiller Cancer Ruling: What Do We Know about Glyphosate?” Www.bbc.com, 11 Aug. 2018, www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-45155788.
- CheckMarket. (n.d.). Sample Size Calculator. Retrieved from https://www.checkmarket.com/sample-size-calculator/
- Mobed, K, E B Gold, and M B Schenker. “Occupational Health Problems among Migrant and Seasonal Farm Workers.” Western Journal of Medicine 157.3 (1992): 367–373.
- Jepson, S., Evans, E., Thorp, R., Hatfield, R., Black, S. H., & The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation. (2013). “PETITION TO LIST The rusty patched bumble bee Bombus affinis (Cresson), 1863 AS AN ENDANGERED SPECIES UNDER THE U.S. ENDANGERED SPECIES ACT” (pp. 19-20).
- RMB Environmental Laboratories, Inc. (Ed.). (2018). Lake Eutrophication. Retrieved from https://www.rmbel.info/primer/lake-eutrophication/
- Texas A&M University. (n.d.). What is a neonicotinoid? Retrieved from https://citybugs.tamu.edu/factsheets/ipm/what-is-a-neonicotinoid/