Why don’t you . . . buy organic food?

This post is a part of the illuminating Why don’t you” series. No judgment! We’re just curious.

I’ll bet I know the answer to this one: cost. A long time ago, Joy wrote something like this for our blog or our book: “Most Americans would love to buy all organic if they didn’t have to spend more.” I remember questioning that statement. Is that true? Sure, our readers probably do prefer organic food, but a surprising number of people don’t see any benefit to organics and might even prefer conventional stuff.

I have to admit that I’m not motivated to buy organic food for personal health reasons. It just feels really abstract to me. I’ve eaten conventional food all my life, and I’m fine! (No need to educate me about this—I know on an intellectual level that it’s not good to ingest chemicals or feed them to my family!) Less abstract (in my mind) is the global benefit of organic farming practices, which is why I strive to eat organic fruits and vegetables. (And I have to admit I didn’t make much of an effort to buy organic produce until I had a baby.)

Enough about me! If you don’t buy organic food . . . why not? If you do buy organic groceries, any tips for saving money?


  1. I really struggle with this one. I would buy all organic if I had unlimited funds. I have a list of the 12 most heavily sprayed fruits and veggies and I do make sure to buy those organic. For the others, I do a price comparison and (usually) end up buying conventional. One tip I have is that I noticed that our grocery store marks down the organic bananas when they are brown and ripe so that the price is the same as the conventional bananas. And last week I bought a bag of three organic avocados for the same price as one conventional! So, always do a price check! And I have found that a lot of the time our Whole Foods has cheaper organic produce than our standard grocery store.

  2. It’s a cost issue in our household, plain and simple. Especially since organic produce is SO much more expensive at the grocery store. I end up buying from local farmers I trust, organic or not, since I know that they’re treating the land right and doing their research on human health. I try to preserve and freeze whatever I can. But for most things, I just can’t afford the organic stuff.

  3. Organic food doesn’t have to cost more. Typically you use less, waste less organic food – because it won’t ‘last’ as long as chemically preserved foods. You can also grow your own organic food – in your garden or in planters on your balcony or pato.

  4. michelle says

    I buy organic with almost everything. It has been a full lifestyle change for us. We are learning to eat with quality vs quantity in mind… and keep the mindset that it’s better for us and the whole planet to spend more on food that is grown properly and eat less of that better food, instead of more of the cheap junk food we could have bought with the same money. I keep the dirty dozen list in my mind at all times – and those I will always buy organic. If the I can’t afford it that week, then I don’t buy that item at all. For the most part I make my own baby food by pureeing whatever it is we’re eating. I make ice cube portions of single item foods out of excess ripe produce, or frozen organic fruits/veggies when the fresh is out of season or too expensive. We do, however, buy some baby food for travels/babysitters/back ups when we run out, and I always buy organic baby. I check prices at the bigger stores online, organize coupons with sales, and know the average prices in my head so if I see it at a discount store or wholesale club, I know if it’s a good price.

  5. Like the other readers, I rely heavily on the EWG’s Clean 15 and Dirty Dozen lists in supermarkets. Things on the Clean 15 list I rarely buy organic, things on the Dirty Dozen list I ALWAYS buy organic. But in the summer we get most of our produce from our CSA and local farmstands – so I don’t have to think so much about the lists.

    I’m a chemist/toxicologist, and I actually study pesticides as endocrine disruptors – so I’m pretty careful about what I ingest since I am breastfeeding and, not long ago, was pregnant. It may not be harmful to us full grown mommies and daddies, but for little ones repetitive small exposures can lead to dramatic consequences.

  6. I buy almost all groceries organic, if I can. Sometimes there’s not an organic option at our only local grocery store. (And sometimes the price of organic flour makes me want to cry so I end up buying conventional if the price is just outrageous). I got motivated to switch to organic once I had kids, and I continue to be comitted as I’ve learned about the impact of pesticides on the environment and how it can affect bodies, kids brains, etc.

    Every once in a while, I find organic products for less than conventional! Like a sale on cream cheese and canned beans. But you have to be on the look out always.

    Someone once told me,
    “do you want to pay your (organic) farmer now, or your doctor later”? I love that! Do organic foods really cost more in the grand scheme of things? How costly is the affect of pesticides over the long term?

    Anywho, love your blog! Thanks for making us all think/question.

  7. I think it’s getting easier and more and more I buy organic. The options are way better than they were even a couple of years ago and I think the prices on organic are much more comparable to the other stuff than they were a few years ago. For me it’s strictly a cost issue and if the price difference is too great, I skip it. I don’t always think organic means better either, like I heard that an organic dairy farm must destroy an otherwise healthy cow that gets an infection because they can’t give it antibiotics (don’t know if this is true or not). I buy milk that is hormone free and I buy cage-free eggs, but not necessarily organic.

  8. I buy everything organic for my baby but not for myself or my husband. It really is a price issue, especially in Hawaii. We already pay more than the mainland due to shipping charges so regular groceries may be as expensive as some organic foods on the mainland. Some foods are cheaper of course, such as mangoes and bananas… but I can’t survive on that :o>

    For my baby, I do a lot of comparison shopping and coupon clipping. For premade/packaged foods, I’ve found BabiesRUs to have the best sales if you’re a member. I’ve bought Earth’s Best 4oz jars for 50 cents each during special sales (less than some regular baby food prices).

    Another option is drugstore.com. They sometimes have sales and if you go through the discover card website (people with discover credit cards probably know this) you get an additional 5% cash back reward. I’ve bought Plum Organics pouches for less than a dollar each on sale.

    Another okay option is ecomom.com but only when they’re having a sale and/or you use a first time 15% discount code (SB004964). I buy the plum organic training meals there.

    I hope this helps ;o)

  9. I find the “dirty dozen” list useful when I’m offered food, for example if someone offers me grapes, I usually just decline… unless it would somehow offend the person.

    But as far as buying goes, I get all organic produce and maybe 75% organic for everything else. It is not just for my family’s health. I think about the farmers in conventional farms who get paid crap to ingest crap all day long. Get sick and die young. So that we can have tropical fruits in winter for 20 cents less a pound, or whatever.

    That is just not right.

    Years ago I had a roommate who ate organic, and living with her changed everything, because I saw that it was possible. Neither of us had much money then, nor do we now. I made under 30k last year and managed to buy organic. Once you see it’s possible and just make the change, you see that, hey, it’s not that hard. Maybe I have $50 less in my pocket at the end of the month, but I do not miss it.

  10. I wouldn’t buy organic food in a market unless I had no choice. With the exception of more well-known organic labels (like EcoStar and USDA Certified), it’s easy to get green-washed and buy something with a dubious background. A plant can be grown without pesticides and using natural fertilizer but that doesn’t necessarily mean it is being grown sustainably. Real organic farmers who care about the process will cover all the bases, and many of these farmers are present at your local farmer’s market.

    Farmer’s market merchants have operations that are easier to probe, AND you have the benefit of knowing all the profit will go entirely to them, instead of costs distributed to all sorts of middle men.

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