Why are organic fruits and vegetables expensive? Are they a right investment on health?

A few days back, I came across an advertisement of organic fruits and vegetables in newspapers. The word “Organic” caught my attention because it is one of the most widely used keywords in selling food products, cosmetics, baby foods, and even clothes. Though health is my top priority, I have often overlooked the benefits organic products could deliver me over the cost of it. In fact, a few months back; I made up my mind to shop for organic fruits and vegetables online. While searching for some naturally grown products online store, I stumbled upon a few good ones. My heart skipped a beat and my jaws dropped wide open, looking at the price tags each organic fruits and vegetables bore. I immediately dropped the idea of going organic as their high price was pinching my heart more than my pockets. Now, this advertisement again aroused my desire for buying organic fruits and vegetables. This time I really wanted to look at both sides of the coin. Before I make any solid conclusions, this time, my knowledge about organic fruits and vegetables must be strengthened. So I started my research on this topic from scratch. Now let's begin to explore what the term organic fruits and vegetables mean?

The fruits and vegetables that are grown on a soil without any usage of chemical fertilizers, herbicides, genetically modified seeds and artificial growth enhancers. Even the water used for nurturing them should be free of any chemical or metallic contaminants. The neighbouring farmlands also should adhere to organic farming regulations. These regulations and standards may vary from country to country, but their basic definition doesn’t alter.

After gazing through the definitions and standards of organic produce, I studied the reasons that hike the cost of organically grown products, making them difficult for a common man to buy.  Here are a few:

Organic Certification:

The organic certification process costs more money. There are many responsibilities associated with the certification process like the organic processes must enumerate that they are using approved substances only, conserving and protecting biodiversity and natural resources. When the conventional produce uses chemical fertilizers to boost and protect the yields, organic farming needs to resort to organic manure and compost. These manure and compost should also be completely free from pesticides and chemicals, which means completely natural sourcing organic fertilizers is hard and exorbitant; its high cost also influences the end price for organic fruits and vegetables to inflate.

Natural weed control:

Unlike conventional farming practices,  organic farming uses agronomic procedures to control weeds naturally. It includes encouraging healthy soil conditions along with a diverse microbial population. Controlling weed growth organically is a significant problem for farmers producing organic crops because they compete with the crops for sunlight, water and nutrients and in turn decrease the yield. According to several studies, rotation of crops is one of the most efficient and sustainable ways to keep organic land free from weeds. It is obvious now that, when weeding naturally involves time and money to afford the required labour, the cost of producing fruits and vegetables organically shoots up.

Uncertain Yields:

It is very difficult for farmers to predict their yields in organic farming. Certain factors like, weeds, pests,  diseases, soil fertility, availability of water for plants  play a significant role in influencing the yield of organic produce. Organic farming does not use the chemical fertilizers, which easily eradicate many issues revolving around the corps. Usage of organic manure, fertilizers and compost in high amounts is mandatory to keep the yield protected. It naturally gears up the cost involved in maintaining and increasing the yields more often. The farmers are not able to meet the growing demand of organic fruits and vegetables with their uncertain yields resulting in branding organic fruits and vegetables as an expensive commodity.

No growth enhancers:

Growing organic fruits and vegetables restricts the usage of synthetic growth hormones, fertilizers or chemicals to enhance the yield of the organic produce. Conventional methods use genetically modified organisms, pesticides and growth regulators to support and enhance the crop, but organic farming, to comply with the highest food safety standards, uses only crop residues and animal wastes as fertilizers. The livestock and crop from which the manure and compost are produced should be provided with nutritious food, a chemical-free environment, clean water to retain the certification of organic produce. This entire cycle is time-consuming and expensive.

Increased Shipping cost:

Organically produced fruits and vegetables cannot be shipped along with conventional produce to guard the originality of organic produce. Unlike conventional produce, organic produce is shipped in smaller quantities. Moreover, organic farmlands are located far away from the cities or towns, ideally to protect the complete essence of organic farming. The above reasons make shipping of organic fruits and vegetables slow, difficult and expensive. The cost of packaging and transporting small quantities is high compared to bulk transportation of produced yields.

Weeding by hand:

Farmers engaged in producing organic fruits and vegetables use labor power to clear out weeds, interfering with the growth of the plants. Weeds are big threat to the farmlands, especially the organic ones because in the organic nurturing of fruits and vegetables, harmful herbicides cannot be used. Wedding by hand is one of the best and most effective methods. It gives nearly 90% result in controlling the weeds and it also reduces the buildup of weed seeds on the land. Another advantage is that it causes less impact on the environment. This method requires a high labor cost. Hiring workers is another big challenge these days as it is very hard to find and employ them.

Keeping aside the expensive tagline, the health benefits they offer should definitely be considered. Though there are a few articles stating that the nutritional value of organically produced fruits and vegetables is the same as non-organically produced ones. Yes, they may or may not carry the same nutrient content, but the health challenges experienced by consuming chemical-painted fruits and vegetables cannot be ignored. Spending huge amounts of money on medical bills can be greatly saved by buying organic fruits and vegetables. Go ahead and buy naturally grown products online, a very good investment for your health.