The Pricing for Organic Foods Has to Be MORE Expensive Before It Gets Cheaper – The Renegade Health Show Episode #11

Tuesday Mar 18, 2008 | BY |
| Comments (18)

This might ruffle a few feathers, but follow along and you’ll see why I say that the price of organic foods have to go up before they go down…

At the Expo West, a farmer asked Michael Pollan–author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma–a question that I thought a lot about.

The question was this… “How can a small guy like us compete with the big food companies as well as those who process foods? We’re just farmers, we sell apples and commodities?”

Pollan didn’t have a specific answer… he just said that this farmer and the scores of others in the same situation needed to stand out from the rest.

Here are my thoughts…

I think the commodity organic food has to be un-commiditized. (I love making up words)

The apple has to stand out in front of the others and command a higher price with honesty about it’s benefits, nutritional content and chemical/pesticide levels.

Here’s today’s show that explains my solution…

This solution is for the long term. Short term doesn’t work. We can’t wait until all the industrial conventional and organic companies mess with our food supply and put all the small guys out of business. (BTW: they already have for many.)

The long term solution and consensus is that no one wants to buy foods or organic foods (commodities) that are mineral deficient and laden with pesticides.

If the natural food companies and farmers choose to stand out they’ll be one of the very few who can command a higher price and rightfully so. Then, further down the line, when the marketshare is more in their favor and more volume builds, they can lower your prices so the consumer can benefit. :-)

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this… I’m sure you have an opinion too. Click here and scroll down to the bottom of the page to post your comment…

Live Awesome!
Kevin

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.

18 COMMENTS ON THIS POST

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  1. edward says:

    The goal should be to get quality for less.

    DRG

  2. Ted says:

    Great idea! The more “niche” that growers can become, and the more they can produce us vs. them statistics about the benefit of their produce, the better chance of success they will have.

    Till them, viva la farmers market!

  3. I agree, Kevin, that the apple farmer in Washington should promote the quality of his product and receive premium price. And I would gladly pay the extra dollar a day for that apple or any other product.
    But when the family consists of 4, 5, 0r 6 people it now becomes a substantial cost along with all the other quality foods to buy.
    I can’t say to everyone else in the family that the Washington apple is mine, yours are the ones from South America.
    It is tough for a middle class family with 3 or more members to buy these premium products.
    I wish this wasn’t the case, but it is.

    Jerry

  4. Mary says:

    Kevin;
    Your a freak. But a good one and I love you,for what you do, and who you are.
    I am willing to pay extra for our food, if I know it is good and has no preservatives and chemicals and pesticides.
    What I question all the time though is peoples honesty, maybe just my own problem, but, I wonder, did they put any chemicals in the soil? What kind of soil do they grow the stuff in? Do they use animal manure for fertilizer? And what were the animals fed?
    I had a lady trying to sell me “Organic” chicken eggs. I questioned her on where she got her “Organic” chicken feed because I was unable in my area to find any. I never did hear back from her again.
    So, maybe it is a case of getting to know the farmers offering the food. If possible.
    Also, I wish to feed our family as good as possible, but with a family of 7 children,do you know how expensive organic and natural can be? It is too bad I say.
    Ok, I will let you get back to all the other things you do. I hope my comments help, somehow?
    Keep doing the good you do.
    Mary Peyer

  5. Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

    DRG,

    I definitely agree that should be the goal and I think it won’t happen as long as the money stays in the hands of the food industry as is.

    In order to fill the pockets of those who are providing the best food possible to the public, they first need to be transparent about what is in their foods, find out what is in a sample of the competition for comparison, raise their prices and then–later down the road–“reset” the commodity pricing once they’ve taken market share. It’s mainly a social theory that has real application. Show why you’re the best, command discussion and prove what the natural health community has been talking about for years. The mainstream still thinks it’s wo-wo stuff. The last article I read about organics said that only 2% of the population buys them.

    How else will a skeptical mainstream believe that the organic apple is better than the conventional. I feel you have to show it to them in black and white. If I spray Raid on an apple then wash it in front of someone, chances are they’re not going to eat it.

    Same deal here… if we can make the threat or danger real, the chances are better we can provide a better, healthier future for everyone. :-)

    Kev

  6. Jonathan Silva says:

    There are many organic and “natural” products on the market today. How do we know they’re organic? None of us personally know unless we made them ourselves. We have to take the company’s (or grower’s) word for it, unless there’s a way for us to test the “organicness” (I love making up words too) of the products. A third-party would have to test and confirm the end product. A system would have to be put in place that regularly (and truthfully) tests the products.

    Lets take pesticide levels in our fruits and vegetables, for example. There should be a pesticide or toxicity rating system for the food being grown. How do we establish this toxicity rating system?

    1) Develop a way to “test” pesticide levels in our food (fruits and vegetables). The test would hopefully be a simple one we can do at home. A test may be hard to develop, however, since there are new pesticides that come out, and a whole variety of pesticides already in use. It’d be hard to come up with an “all-in-one” test.

    2) Come up with some sample pesticide residue readings for a variety of foods. Find a measurable high and low level. Give it a toxicity “rating” number using a 1-10 scale (1 being no to very little pesticides, 10 being a plethora of killing spray).

    Ideally, we could have a community website that lists different supermarkets and farmers markets, along with the food purchased and the toxicity rating. People could refer to the website to see where to buy from.

    If the tests were available to the public then a grower could actively advertise that their foods were grown with no pesticides, no questions asked, “test for yourself!”. Then, not only will they be able to raise their prices for being truthfully pesticideless, but others would hopefully start to take notice and use less pesticide on their products as well.

    This process is about pesticides, but the general process could be used on other items.

    However, all of that wouldn’t be possible without a demand. Create a great enough demand for the product (in this case a pesticideless product) and sellers will yield to the consumer’s interests.

    I think that was a few ideas mushed into one. Maybe someone can find a useful one in there :D

  7. Susana says:

    WOW!
    Kevin, it sounds like it’s time to bring the ol’ Energy Star model into the produce aisle!
    People can check the current USDA set prices for commodities at the website 24/7 ~ there ARE organics out there ~ and, they show the mode of transport ~ KIWIS from a ship out of NZ, for example. The organics are usually selling considerably higher than industrialized crops, you’ll note.
    Here’s a tip to anyone beginning this process, (I’ve been setting up produce cooperatives since 1978…): CHECK THE USDA SITE BEFORE SHOPPING!
    For example, those pummelos, from last week’s trip out here, they are selling for $13.50 – $14.50 for boxes of 7 – 10, in the Los Angeles Terminal Market, on average, since last Monday.
    Yeah, Terminal Market ~ every major urban area has one! Get to know YOURS! Set up a cooperative! You like the thought of all those $3.00 pummelos being in your hands for UNDER $2.00? FRESHER (no sitting in trucks & produce section refrigerator rooms…)? SHOP THE LOCAL TERMINAL MARKET! Yeah, Baby! THAT IS The Way!
    Here’s something else:
    Every region has “Certifying Agent”, with USDA. The one for my 5 acre organic demonstration garden is in Gainesville, Florida, but they are EVERYWHERE. Farmers need to pony up the touch of bookkeeping (UGH, I know, I know!), and get CERTIFIED ORGANIC!
    This lends TREMENDOUS credibility to a crop! And, it boosts the sale price substantially. Yeah, it CAN just “say organic”, but CERTIFIED ORGANIC is a marketable tool!
    Today, I popped in to EccoTerra, in Claremont for a 1/4 pound of organic gojis and a $3.99 organic power juice (You drink all down at one time, no sip!), like I didn’t know about oxidation…. ANYWAY! The place had Granny Smith “organic” apples for 99 cents a pound… BUT, they were NOT _certified_ organic, so, we passed on the “deal”…
    I look forward to the day we’ll all be able to look at a sign, similar to the sign already in place on appliances, and determine the “energy star rating” of our body’s fuel! It will be posted right next to the price and be UNIFORM, with ALL products having one on display.
    Here’s the trick: CORPORATE FARMS
    >>>If you have not seen the film The Corporation, yet, YOU MUST SEE IT AT ONCE!<<<
    By MANDATE, ALL corporations must serve their bottom line, NOT the environment, NOT our health… their stockholders are paramount, LEGALLY, by mandate! And, they have the deepest pockets around ~ Look at TOBACCO! When did it ever help ANYONE? When will it ever GO AWAY? “Stop Smoking programs”? Please. Stopping people from smoking is AGAINST their corporate mandate to MAKE MONEY FOR THE STOCKHOLDERS! So, they sling a pittance toward “public education”, if they REALLY cared about PUBLIC HEALTH, they, like MONSANTO and the other CORPORATE FARMERS, would take a HUGE SHIFT toward doing things in the best interest of the PLANET & THOSE WHO INHABIT IT, not only those who hold shares.
    Corporate farming money will trounce, trounce, trounce ANY & ALL attempts at legislation detrimental to their status quo.
    Sad, but true. Corporations should be ABOLISHED.
    MONSANTO is the death knell for Earth.
    “Suicide Seeds”, anyone?
    Yeah, Kevin. SUICIDE SEEDS. Check it out. We can thank Monsanto for their introduction and ask why the STERILITY rates are climbing for humans AS I TYPE THIS… It isn’t “news”… it’s known but not PUBLICIZED by our what? Our CORPORATE-OWNED MEDIA! A handful of corporations own the media in USA… What’s the frequency, Kenneth? Yeah…
    Ratings on produce will happen in my utopia. But, my utopia is thwarted from becoming reality by CORPORATE GREED.
    Until we end CORPORATIONS, and CORPORATE FARMING, there will be nothing the Washington Organic Apple can do but try to meet with his local USDA Certifying Agent, jump the hoops, allow the “surprise inspections”, fill out the paperwork, keep the records and sell at the slightly better certified organic prices.
    The best the consumers can do, besides the obvious GROW YOUR OWN, is buy organic using a cooperative model, from your local Terminal Market.
    I wish I had better news.
    That juice was AWESOME! She said she loaded it with chlorophyll to clear my body and beets, with their tops, to cleanse my liver… GREAT GAL!
    I ate ONE dried organic goji berry, at $11.99 a pound ~ they weren’t CERTIFIED organic, so, I’m iffy on them…
    See how it works?
    Hugs from SUNNY SoCal! ~ Susana

  8. Dee Fatouros says:

    Demand must be created & we need to compete with the big boys by doing what they do—skillful marketing.
    If farmers can somehow ban together so as to reduce marketing costs, their potent message would reach many more people. Run organic ads on TV since that is the one thing most people look at. In the ads, by simply stating the truth, those who can afford to might go organic which will create more demand & hopefully lower prices for everyone.
    If big pharma can create demand for their products, which are not cheap, why can’t the organic producers?

  9. Bernadette says:

    Wow…great comments so far. Another idea to increase demand for organics, especially certified organics, that won’t cost the farmers any money… would be for free lance writers, interested in nutrition, to start writing and publishing more articles on the health benefits of organic food, including the differences in nutritive value. Victoria Boutenko has published differences between commercial and organic produce in her book, Green for Life, so I’m sure the information is out there. Free lance is a great way to spread it to the mainstream.

  10. Wendi Dee says:

    I thought I was already paying a whole lot more for organics. :-P

    I think your idea is a good one, but how can the small farmers afford to have their produce tested to prove it’s better?

    As always, lots of love to you.

    Wendi
    XOXO

  11. Kevin Gianni Kevin Gianni says:

    I know, Wendi, it’s expensive… for the small farmer to afford the testing, I think they’d have to do it on a smaller level and be sure to claim that these are just samples, a mini disclaimer (since that’s what we are all about these days)

    Or else, they’ll have to get come VC (venture capital) from people who are really into the idea, who want to fund the project.

    The first one is probably easier, but I’m not sure…

    As for the price of organics, I think with Mike Adams’s latest report, we need to really start self policing the industry and I’ll gladly pay more as almost a tithe to the smaller guys who are making a point to be transparent… http://www.naturalnews.com/022862.html

    Thoughts?

    Kev

  12. Merideth says:

    I make a point of getting to know the growers at my local farmers market (Union Sq. & Tompkins Sq. NYC), not just by buying their veggies but by making rockin’ live food delights out of them, bringing them back to the market, and giving them some. I’ll say “this was made with your tomatoes (jerusalem artichokes, kale, turnips, whatever), try some!” They’re always touched. When they’re not too busy, I engage them in conversation about their growing practices.

    I’m not happy with Americans who feel it’s our birthright to have cheap food! We get what we pay for. I’ve had friends who comment “Merideth, you pay so much for food!” to which I respond, “That’s why my doctor bills approach zero!” For much more on local, sustainable, organic food, read Barbara Kingsolver’s “Animal, Vegetable, Miracle.” The best indicator of health is EDUCATION.

    One grower was shocked into tears at Union Sq. when I bought all the raspberries she had left, a few pounds of Jerusalem artichokes & sundry and told her to keep the change. She’d never been treated so well by a customer. I told her that if she & the other growers weren’t there, I’d have to move to the country & grow my own.

    Another kiosk at the farmers market bore this quote from the farmer: “Once we lose agricultural land to development, we never get it back.” Support local growers! Health and peace to all.

  13. L says:

    I am concerned about the pesticides but also the genetic engineering of our foods and the radiating also. I also understand the higher prices of organic produce but places like Wild Oats or Whole Foods are way out of bounds on some of their prices. These are the kind of places I have to shop for organics for variety. Some of the chain markets sell some items and sometimes the price is more reasonable but not always. This puts my food budget off the chart and there are only two of us. I find I have to buy regular foods more often than not b/c I can’t afford the organics. There are not any organic farmers in my area that I know of that sell at a farmers market so people who have this option are so blessed.
    I do hope that in the future there will be an organization or web site where we can put together info expressing our concerns over the practices being done to our food, so we can get it out to the government officials in charge of these areas so they know there are people who want these practices stopped.

  14. Carrie Ransom says:

    Being a single person, I’d pay the extra money for the premium product. After all, I already buy almost everything organic since doing The Ultra Simple Diet cleanse from Dr. Hyman (thank you for bringing that info to light! My joints feel AMAZING and that brain fog is gone, too!), but organic doesn’t guarantee the vitamins and minerals in the food, so I choose to take vitamins, and the good ones aren’t cheap!
    Sure, some people with a family to feed may not be able to support the products at a higher price, so they won’t purchase them. Just like at a place like Mother’s Market; the stuff in there is on the pricier side, yet they still have a client base willing to pay their prices!

  15. Ron says:

    Hi Kevin!
    You have comments on your vids disabled so I assume you want us to comment here on your chanel… I hope honesty IS what you indeed want.

    On getting a high price for organic foods, an apple your example. You said, you’d pay a dollar more for an apple under your list of quality assurances. Well I would like honesty and competitive free market practices to allow prices to determine themselves… Once we get to the point where the standards for organic growing are met (and I agree with transparency).

    At my local health food market I know they are buying good quality produce, and selling at very competitive prices. The more people want organic the more growers will convert. Then prices will come down.

    It is unfortunate we live in a get rich quick world, where everyone wants a high profit margine rather than fair profit high volume.

    I’ve been into healthy food since 1992 and it’s getting better all the time I appreciate what you are doing and hope you do well, but please keep in mind poor people want to be healthy too! One meal at a time!

    Good luck, O,

  16. frann says:

    There’s a way to get great organic food, from your local area, AND great a great boost to your personal fitness at the same time – grow your own. This is a great hobby, really rewarding, and you get to eat the results. It doesn’t get much better than that!

  17. Andris says:

    Theoretically, this is a plausible idea. People want high quality products and rush to spend their money on them. However, I think it has one fundamental flaw- many people simply cannot afford to pay the high prices on top quality organic products. I would love to eat 100% organic diet but, alas, I cannot afford to do it. I also know many other people who would like to go 100% organic and they simply cannot afford it. If the prices go up, what are they going to do then? I have lived in the USA only 9 year, but my impression is that “all-organic” lifestyle is the privilege of people who make enough money to afford it. I am not suprised there is certain cinicism among people who cannot afford all organic diets about those who can. Although I genuinely repsect what they are trying to accomplish, the fact remains that most “health advocates” are well to do individuals for whom price is not an issue. For example, Mike Adams is a millionaire. If I had millions of dollars, I would acttually try to do the same things he is trying to do- educate poeple and take down the corrupt FDA. Have you heard of a Health advocate working 50 hours a week trying to make his/her ends meet and trying to change the world at the same time? I have not. Every one of them I am familiar with does not even have a regular 8 to 5 pm job. Every time I go to Whole foods, every other car in their parking lot is a fancy Lexus or BMW. I do not have one, and I cannot afford to buy all my produce in whole foods. Should bying organic produce be a privilege of the rich people and the rest of us should resign to buying chemical laden produce simply because we cannot afford it?

  18. bjamez says:

    Andris, that is right on. Those of us who are poor just cannot afford all-organic food. I’ve never priced it myself, but I wouldn’t doubt an all-organic diet to be anywhere from $600 to $700 a month. Families of 3 who live on a $2,500 salary (like mine did for some time) with a $800 to $1000 mortgage payment let alone the huge price of gas and other bills, simply would not be able to afford it. I agree with you, Kevin, about growers being transparent and using it to market, but growers need to find ways to lower prices, not higher them so that more people can benefit from the healthiness of organic foods. Low prices should not mean low quality (If only the food corporations could understand that).

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