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Dutchess_III's avatar

Can any one explain to me why some people feel that nutritious food is expensive?

Asked by Dutchess_III (45318points) June 8th, 2012

It’s not. Broccoli, cauliflower, strawberries, lettuce, potatoes, beans, almost every thing is very inexpensive per serving. Sure, buying high dollar food, like salmon, makes each serving more expensive, but it doesn’t automatically follow that it’s better for you The cost of food depends on its abundance, not on its nutritional value.

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90 Answers

incendiary_dan's avatar

I think it’s partially due to the fact that unhealthy, empty calorie foods like corn and soybean based processed foods, are heavily subsidized. They actual cost of growing them is huge.

zenvelo's avatar

Nutritious food is more expensive per calorie because it tends to be less calorie dense. Cheese whiz is a lot cheaper than properly made cheddar for cows without hormones, but it sure fills you up faster.

josie's avatar

It’s because there are so many people who are dumb enough to believe that the stuff they buy at the convenient mart is actually nutritious.
“Spaghetti-Os” is pasta so it must be good for you but it is sooo expensive”

SavoirFaire's avatar

The only claim along these lines that I’ve heard made is that more nutritious versions of food are more expensive than less nutritious versions of that food. This is true. The cheapest white breads are less expensive than the cheapest wheat breads, canned vegetables are less expensive than fresh vegetables, etc. This can be easy to miss if you don’t go to the “poor” grocery stores.

wundayatta's avatar

Vegies at the farmer’s market are probably three or four times as expensive as the same thing at the supermarket. Yet the vegies at the market were picked yesterday, while the vegies at the supermarket were picket last week. There are more nutrients in fresh vegies than in those that have been ripened on the way to the store.

In most cities, poor people don’t have access to supermarkets or farmer’s markets. The vegies in convenience stories are just awful. No one would want to eat two week old iceberg lettuce and plastic tomatoes with brown spots. But that is what is available. So they buy a can of ravioli, or pop tarts or they go to McDonalds, which sells vegies in the form of ketchup, lettuce and pickles.

For people in the inner city, truly nutritious food actually is much more expensive, because they have to go way out of their way to find it. Also, they don’t have the education to tell them it is important to find and use. Also, having never eaten broccoli, they think it looks nasty, and they don’t know how to prepare it, and when they boil the hell out of it, they think it tastes nasty. They don’t know better.

tinyfaery's avatar

You obviously have never been to a grocery store in the ghetto. Canned peas are 99¢, but fresh peas are more than $1.50 per pound. Instant oatmeal packs are about 3 bucks. Hearty oats you have to
slow cook are about $6.00. And most of the time the “good” food isn’t even available at ghetto markets. The produce section has maybe 10 items, but the shelves are loaded with Spagettios and ramen at 10 for a dollar.

Kardamom's avatar

All of the organic foods at the grocery stores in my neck of the woods is much more expensive than the non-organic stuff. And they don’t call Whole Foods “whole paycheck” for nothing.

Also if you try to buy a variety of healthy vegetables and fruit, they’re likely to spoil and go bad before you have a chance to finish them all. That’s a lot more expensive than it is for someone to simply go to Burger King every day and get some dreadful thing from the dollar menu.

Also, a gallon of 1% milk is a lot more expensive than buying a couple of six packs of soda pop with a coupon, or when it’s on sale.

Restaurants that serve sustainable organic meals are much more expensive than McDonalds or Jack in the Box.

A giant 32 oz. cup full of soda can be had for 89 cents, a similar sized portion of fresh orange juice would set you back about $3.89.

Most restaurants give you free refills on soda, but they do not give free refills for fresh squeezed juice or milk.

You can buy a package of bologna or hot dogs at the 99 cent store. You cannot buy a package of hormone-free, nitrite-free sliced turkey or vegetarian hot dogs there.

A giant bag of potato chips is a lot cheaper than buying a similar sized bag of walnuts.

Some restaurants offer healthier choices like whole wheat buns, but they usually charger you more for them. Most diner style places that serve sandwiches and burgers (like Denny’s or Carrows), you get French fries with your meal, but you have to pay extra if you want to get a salad.

Coloma's avatar

Well fresh fruits and produce ARE expensive! You can’t get high quality fresh foods at grocery outlets.
I probably have about 30 dollars worth of fruits and veggies on hand right now. Apricots, watermelon, fresh cherries, hot house cucumbers at $2 a pop, baby carrots, fresh asparagus, several types of lettuces, tomatoes, fresh string beans, avocados.

I’m single, divorced and no kids at home anymore and I spend tons of money just on my own healthy foods. Families on budgets have a hard time serving multiple servings of fresh fruits and veggies every day. 4–6 individual servings of high quality fresh foods is very expensive for many people to manage.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

The foods I eat on a regular basis are healthy but not at all cheap in the quantities offered me to buy them. Raw almonds are always over $6.00lb even though I only eat a handful at a time. Brazil and Pecan nuts even more expensive. I eat a yogurt every day but to get the flavor I want without the syrupy goo, I mix some plain with flavored. There are no sales for plain yogurt, no cute little pre portioned packages. Fresh fruits that are ripe enough to eat raw aren’t cheap if you want more variety than a banana each day. Cheese has become more expensive each year too, a generic bloc of colby/jack or mild cheddar to add some yum to salads or whatever, easy $5.00

Cheap food is easy to find and when you’re tired and more broke than flush, Wendy’s .99 cent menu or disgusting ramen cups, 12 for a 1.00 in the grocery store start to look ok. Have you ever noticed coupons for foods you’d really want to eat? Nope, they’re all for pre packaged instant rice & noodles, frozen salt block re heat meals or crap flavored water drinks.

Coloma's avatar

I also buy romaine and leaf lettuces and dandelion greens for my pet geese. I spend a lot of green on greens over here. lol

Coloma's avatar

Do the math. If it is encouraged to eat upwards of 5–6 servings of fresh produce and fruits a day, multiply that by a family of 4, you’re looking at 16–24 servings a day! That’s a LOT of produce, veggies and fruits.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Our weekly grocery bill is high much higher than the average family…about double last time I checked due to our desire to have fresh (organic when possible) foods.

So do I @Coloma. Our pets also get the best.

Kardamom's avatar

@Coloma And as you already know, iceberg lettuce, is always much cheaper than romaine or green leaf lettuce or butter lettuce, but iceberg lettuce has almost no nutritional value, as opposed to the other kinds, especially romaine, which are nutrition powerhouses.

And it’s a lot cheaper to buy a can of Campbell’s tomato soup in a can, at the dollar store than it is to make your own, fresh tomato soup. Tomatoes are ridiculously expensive.

You can get a breaded, deep fried, highly processed chicken sandwich with shredded iceberg lettuce for less than 2 bucks at KFC, McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King. You cannot get a skinless, grilled chicken breast sandwich with romaine lettuce and tomato on a whole wheat bun for that price from anywhere that I can think of. And you couldn’t make one for that price either.

SpatzieLover's avatar

No kidding about the Iceburg @Kardamom. Here it’s practically free in the summer. We don’t even buy it/bring it home for our guinea pig.

Linda_Owl's avatar

Because nutritious food IS more expensive than less nutritious foods. And if you are working a minimum wage job & feeding a couple of children….. you are S.O.L. in being able to pay for nutritious foods.

Aethelflaed's avatar

Because I can’t buy most produce in the smaller portions I want. I have to commit to an entire cucumber, and entire head of lettuce, an entire onion, even if I only want 5% of that produce. If I just want a salad – a single salad, not a weeks worth of salad, not two weeks worth of salad – it costs me more, right then, then simply getting a Big Mac.

dabbler's avatar

The meal that seems to involve the smallest cash outlay is not the best for us, and are often greatly subsidized (great chart @SpatzieLover !)
But the true cost of some of the apparently cheapest foods is actually much higher than its price due to later health care costs of huge proportions.

rooeytoo's avatar

Frozen veggies are very inexpensive unless you buy the name brands. And I have read numerous times that frozen is often more nutrient rich than fresh because it is frozen immediately after picking whereas what you buy “fresh” in the grocery store may have been picked weeks ago.

I think it is less expensive to eat healthy foods but it takes more time and thought to prepare. It seems to me as if everyone today wants fast and easy, not soup that takes several hours to cook or spaghetti sauce that doesn’t come out of a jar. Again I have read that canned tomatoes are more nutritious than fresh and they are dirt cheap. Granted these are not organic but they aren’t processed chemicals.

jca's avatar

Excellent, informative chart, @SpatzieLover. It deserves many great answers!

Coloma's avatar

@Kardamom Yes, I don;t even know why iceberg lettuce is not extinct, zero nutritional value and the worst type of lettuce to ever feed animals.

Dutchess_III's avatar

So none of the meals that were suggested in this question are healthy because they’re relatively inexpensive?

rooeytoo's avatar

I love iceberg lettuce. It is used in many Asian foods as a wrap. It fills you up, has virtually no calories because it is full of water, it provides excellent fiber. There is nothing as good as a wedge of it fresh and crunchy with a splash of balsamic, a hit of oil, garlic, salt and pepper. I could have it at every meal. And it is cheap in season. Zucchinis get the same bad rep and I like it too. Sometimes this idea of ONLY eating nutritious foods goes a bit far. It is much better for you than a box of mac and cheese. Eat it with a chicken leg (very cheap) and a baked spud and you have a good dinner with a reasonable amount of calories.

My chicken always loved it, I put the less desirable leaves in the dogs veggie mix. And the cockatiel likes it too.

My second favorite green leaf is rocket, love the kick it carries, but it is so expensive!

Bellatrix's avatar

Cheap to grow though @rooeytoo and fast. Get a bit tub and plant some. I know you move a bit but you could perhaps grow some rocket (and other pot possible veggies) and carry your garden with you!

Rocket grows like a weed in my garden.

rooeytoo's avatar

@Bellatrix – I cut the bottom out of cheap plastic buckets from Bunnings. I fill them halfway with good soil and just sit them on the lawn. I am always growing something and when we move there is nothing to do except pick up the buckets, the dirt go through, I kick it around a bit and no ones knows I had a garden there! I love to grow stuff. Even here where it is pretty cold, the vegetables that are usually considered spring time veg grow well all winter long! And I do grow rocket along with other lettuce varieties but no head lettuce, I buy my iceberg from the store, hehehe!

WillWorkForChocolate's avatar

Nutritious food is more expensive. That’s all there is to it.

I conducted an experiment in which I bought a “normal” list of foods that we regularly eat. The next week, I went back to the store and bought the same list of foods, mainly from the organic section, including a lot of fresh produce and items that were lower in fat/calories/gluten/sugar etc… When I bought all organic and healthy, it was more than double the usual cost.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I, personally, feel there is probably no nutritional or health differences between regular food and “organic” food. As someone else said, it’s a lot of hype. Just like “green slime” and “Nile virus,” and “Avian Flu” and all the other silly stuff people bought in to during its moment of fame.

From Wiki “The weight of the available scientific evidence has not shown a significant difference between organic and more conventionally grown food in terms of safety,[2][3][4] nutritional value,[3][5][6] or taste.[4][3]

dabbler's avatar

In my experience some organic foods are noticeably superior to non-organic, especially fruit.

Organic strawberries ! You’d swear they are a distinct species, they will be a big smaller but will have more color and will not taste like wet wood.
Organic bananas and oranges have remarkably more flavor also and the bananas have a less wooden texture. Other fruits and vegetables can also have more flavor and color too.

Organic dairy products will not have hormones in them.

Here’s a few links to lists of foods some folks feel should be bought in organic form if possible. Apples, meat, dairy and baby food are on most lists…
LearningChannel <= also has a list of things that are ok in non-organic form.

The more processed the food is the less there seems to be a difference. Organic white bread seems to be approximately the same as non-organic for example.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dabbler “In your experience…” I would hazard to say that when you were told you were eating “organic” you told your self it would taste better, so it did. You mentioned bananas. Those are grown in tropical countries such as Ecuador, Brazil and Mexico, etc. and shipped to the US. You really think those third world countries are fussing about “organic”? Organic farming cuts into profits, big time.

dabbler's avatar

Nope, not a case of recognition bias, the organic ones really will win a blind taste test, try ‘em.
Yes, we get organic bananas all the time, from those countries.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Do you have any citations that show we get organic bananas from those countries? I just don’t think it’s so.

dontmindme's avatar

You know, all food is expensive these days, especially when you have growing teenagers in your home. My kids can eat and eat and they are still skinny! I hate grocery shopping because I know I can easily spend $50 with barely enough food to last a few days for the entire family. Our family goes through a gallon of skim milk in two days, paying at least $3.75 per gallon. Milk costs more than a gallon of gasoline. Ridiculous, if you ask me. But our family loves milk. I guess we could skimp by buying a .20 cent packet of Kool-Aid, but who wants to drink sugar water? I’d rather have my glass of vitamin D and calcium, thank you. and before you go saying we could just drink water. have you ever added water to your cereal? yuck! :P

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dontmindme True that. But “poor” folks on food stamps don’t really have to worry about food prices.

zenvelo's avatar

@Dutchess_III That’s pretty offensive to say. Try living on food stamp allotment for a month. I bet you can’t. That’s why people on food stamps often can only afford calories dense/nutritionally empty processed food.

And i just got organic bananas from Ecuador last night. They taste so much better than Chiquitas. My son even commented on them.

dontmindme's avatar

@Dutchess_III I know a lot of working poor that receive minimal amounts in food stamps. They make that money stretch as best they can. Your experience is not the norm I’ve encountered.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III In response to this post, no one here has said that the meals on suggested in response to that other question are not healthy. Nor has anyone said that a creative person cannot find ways to eat healthy that are relatively inexpensive. But the key word in your previous post is “relatively.”

Foods that are relatively inexpensive may still be more expensive than other available options in absolute numbers. Only the fallacy of equivocation gets us from “more nutritious versions of food are more expensive than less nutritious versions of that food” to “it is impossible to eat healthy without spending exorbitant amounts of money.”

As for the bit about food stamps, I agree with both @zenvelo and @dontmindme. Those who are eligible for food stamps probably have to worry about food prices more than anyone else. The less money you have to spare, after all, the less you can afford to be careless about your spending.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@zenvelo Come on, man. You know I’ve received food stamps in the past. And just how do you know those bananas were actually organically grown, especially since the plantations were outside the jurisdiction of the US? Who’s monitoring them? I still think this “organic” business is just silly. Just another way to get gullible people to spend more money. IMO.

@SavoirFaire the only people who seem to feel that food stamps are restrictive are those who have never received them. Food was the only thing we had plenty of during those lean years. No worries a-tall. Oh, and, FYI, for a the majority of the year, throughout week, the students get two meals a day from the school. For free, if the parent provides an SRS case number for food stamps. Nobody’s starving in this country.

dontmindme's avatar

@Dutchess_III the only people who seem to feel that food stamps are restrictive are those who have never received them. Um, I’ve received foodstamps before. I know how the system works. And I know people who receive them now. None of us have received more than we need. It was barely enough. Your experience is not the same for every other person who has or is receiving food stamps. You need to visit other areas of this country a bit and you will find children who are starving. Do you know every poor family in America? I don’t understand how you can make the claims you are making. It’s kind of sad. :/

jca's avatar

I can’t speak personally as one who’s experienced with food stamps, because I have never received them, but I know people who have, and in the area I live in (I know this is not true for all areas), there is free lunch and free breakfast at school, and also, receiving food stamps qualifies people to get food from food pantries and also they can always eat a cooked meal at a place like Salvation Army. Now for myself, someone employed, if I was broke for some reason (hypothetical now), and I went to a food pantry, it’s the luck of the draw as to whether or not they’d give me food. I’d guess they’d look at my clothes and car and turn me away. Does my daughter qualify to receive free lunch at school? I am pretty sure not.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dontmindme How much you get depends on your income. What was your income, how many people in the household, and how much was your FS allowance?

Show me where children in this country are starving!

@jca Do the people you know who receive them get plenty?

jca's avatar

@Dutchess_III: Yes, as you said, nobody is starving.

incendiary_dan's avatar

That Wiki quote about nutrient density is bullshit. I’ll start digging up sources now, but suffice it to say the soil that food is grown in has huge influence on the nutritional makeup, particularly where some trace minerals are involved. Not all organic farms go to the extent to check on those, but being grown in real soil rather than oil-filled mush makes a world of difference, and even going further than that, plants grown in polycrops have a WAY better nutrient makeup than even the organic stuff.

There are children starving in this country. Even more important perhaps, is that there is an epidemic of affluent malnutrition, with full bellies and no nutrients. Some of this is based on what some of you above have contended are healthy foods, which are not. Not only the conventionally oil-fertilized crops, but things like grains and legumes, which should not be eaten in abundance but are recommended for that by numerous organizations.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@incendiary_dan Again, show me where there are starving children in this country. Show me.

Also, I do appreciate you looking up sources to back up your claims. I can’t find any except on blogs, which don’t count. I’m especially interested in your claims about the soil. This is a farming community. My husband has farmed in the past. Where in the world do you get the idea that the crops are grown in “oil filled mush?” Man, could you imagine burn season around here if that were true!!

zenvelo's avatar

@Dutchess_III If food were so plentiful, I guess we wouldn’t need the food banks here in Northern California.

And where I buy my organic bananas is quite vigorous in certifying that it is grown organically. If you don’t like organic produce, don’t buy it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Your post just underscored that food is so plentiful that people are literally giving it away to food banks who are literally giving it away to other people. Don’t know who, though. Can’t imagine. If someone needs the assistance of a food bank, why don’t they just go to SRS and apply for food stamps?

It’s not that I don’t like organic food. I think it’s silly and a waste of money. But that’s America. Silly and wasteful.

Who does the certifying of bananas where you buy them? And how to they do it?

Dutchess_III's avatar

From your link @tinyfaery: It actually clarifies that “First, of the food insecure, two-thirds are not actually hungry, and in large part this is because they rely on food assistance programs (including WIC, food stamps, the school feeding program and private programs such as church programs) and income support programs.”

I looked through it pretty carefully, specifically looking for an example of how people could be “food insecure” in America. Didn’t find a single example. What I did find (in one of the links in the article you linked to) was that they came up with their logic based on answers given by people in surveys. “ERS compiles the responses to the survey, an annual supplement to the monthly Current Population Survey (CPS)....The food security survey asks households 18 questions about experiences and behaviors that indicate food insecurity.

So the stats are based on people’s perceptions of their “food security.” And most people took advantage of the free food that’s out there via WIC, Foodstamps, etc. It never did say why a small minority of people didn’t.

So, no examples of children actually starving to death. Just a bunch of people who don’t feel like they get enough to eat. No examples, no clarification at all.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, I like this one!
“Most food-insecure households avoid hunger (the uneasy or painful sensation caused by a lack of food) by limiting the types of food they buy and by relying on public and/or private food programs. But in about one-third of food-insecure households, one or more household members are hungry at times.” OMG. They are HUNGRY sometimes? Only in America would a person who actually goes long enough between meals to feel hungry be considered “food insecure”! That was from here. I got to that from the link @tinyfaery posted.

jca's avatar

For examples of true starvation, look at photos of Africa. Go to Mexico and see children and their families standing in fields of garbage, picking through stuff to find scraps of any kind to eat or sell. Nowhere in the United States have I ever seen children starving like you see in other countries. Do people who receive welfare have to stretch a buck? Yes, I’m sure. I, too, have to stretch a buck and I have a regular, decent paying job. I know that across the street from my job, I see people paying for sodas and snacks like chips and candy bars with food stamp cards. I see them on a daily basis, racking up $12 worth of crap, and out comes the card. I don’t buy sodas and chips and candy bars from stores like that, because it’s too expensive. Then they get vouchers for food pantries and they can also eat at Salvation Army and other places for lunch. If someone could explain that to me, I’m all ears.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yep @jca. I have never seen children rummaging in garbage cans for food either. No one in the cornfields after harvest, picking up the corn that was missed (I get mine off their stalks just before they harvest!) No one raiding any fields around here at all (except us. Heh!:)

I thought it was interesting that in my post the authors had to define “hungry” for us! (the uneasy or painful sensation caused by a lack of food) Seriously? Is THAT what that funny sensation is that makes me want to eat something? What is the word for when you go outside and it’s snowing and you have the urge to put more clothes on?

dabbler's avatar

@Dutchess_III “any citations that show we get organic bananas from those countries?” It says the country where they’re grown on the labels on them, along with the produce number that starts with a ‘9’ if they’re organic. All the usual, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama…etc

Dutchess_III's avatar

How do you know they’re telling the truth @dabbler?

tinyfaery's avatar

There is no such thing as organic. Nobody goes hungry. Nutritious food is always cheaper than junk food.

Glad we cleared that up.

dontmindme's avatar

yay. @Dutchess_III wins.~ don’t we all feel better now.

rooeytoo's avatar

If only organic provided nutrition, wouldn’t most of the world would be dead, myself included. It simply is not always possible to buy organic. And as @incendiary_dan said, just because it is organic doesn’t mean it was grown in good natural soil.

In the meantime I eat the best I can and we’ll see how long I can go!

dabbler's avatar

@Dutchess_III Gee whiz where do you think they grow organic bananas?! Canada ?

dabbler's avatar

Also USDA organic standards are widely considered to be trustworthy, because independent third-party assessors check on farm practices.
The labeling of produce with a ‘9’ in front of the number on the PLU label is audited.

An ‘8’ in front of a five digit number, by the way, mean GMO genetically-modified. But that is voluntary and lots of four digit foods are GM.

SavoirFaire's avatar

@Dutchess_III I can’t help but think that this conversation has gone to a very strange place. The original question was about why people think that nutritious food is expensive. The explanation was that no one thinks it is expensive tout court, but rather that more nutritious versions of food are typically more expensive than less expensive version of that same kind of food. This is demonstrably true.

In response to this, you changed the subject to food stamps. You claimed only those who have never received food stamps feel that the program is restrictive, which was shown to be false by @dontmindme. Perhaps the two of you had different levels of need, or perhaps you made different decisions when it came to quality versus quantity. In any case, I’m glad that you didn’t find them restrictive; but your personal experience does not determine that of anyone else.

Then you moved on to talking about people going hungry. This is particularly odd because no one had claimed otherwise prior to you making this comment in response to an answer of mine in which I had said nothing about hunger. Moreover, you have insisted on using death by starvation as your criterion for accepting any claims on this subject when everyone else has been talking about malnutrition (since the rest of us seem to remember that this question was originally about food quality, not food quantity).

When you were given data about people going hungry, you decided to make assumptions about why it was offered and cherry picked the site to again combat claims that no one seems to have made. You even complained about the site taking the time to define its terms, despite the fact that any decent study does that—however trivial it might seem—in order to be clear about what is being quantified. As an educator, surely you know this. Your mocking of it, then, can only be for rhetorical effect.

We then had @jca make the completely irrelevant point that hunger is worse elsewhere. I don’t think anyone would dispute this, but the existence of bigger problems doesn’t mean we should ignore smaller problems. If I hurt myself fixing my roof, I’m not going to walk around with open wounds saying “why bother going to the doctor when there are people with worse injuries than this who can’t afford health care?”

[Removed by Fluther] The simple and modest claims that have been made here are that some foods are more nutritious than others (hardly a shocking thesis), that those foods tend to be more expensive (which is demonstrably true), and that people with less money will be less able to buy expensive food (a simple matter of mathematics).

In the end, I can’t really see what it is you are trying to accomplish or argue for here. It sometimes looks like you are trying to shame the poor, but I doubt that you would try to do that. Nor do I think you would be interested in simply mocking those who are conscientious about their diets or who consider the wider moral and political implications of food production. It would be out of character for you to do these things, so I have to assume that you have some different goal.

What might that goal be, though? The question started off with a misunderstanding about what claims people were actually making about the relationship between food prices and nutrition, but that has long since been cleared up. As such, I am confused about what you take the issue to be at this stage of the conversation.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@SavoirFaire I just go where people take it. It took a lot of different directions because when people are asked to provide good solid evidence for their beliefs they…simply switch the direction of the question.

@incendiary_dan claimed that most crops are grown in “oil filled mush.” I asked for evidence. He left.

I asked for proof that there are children starving in America. The link provided to prove that point did the opposite.

@dabbler Not sure what your point is. It seemed to suggest that bananas are organic, period. Well duh. All food is. People are yelling that “organically grown” bananas are more nutritious and taste better than regular bananas. However, bananas are grown in tropical third world countries and I seriously doubt any farming practices are being overseen there. Just stick a “9” as the first number on the label and raise the prices. Let the consumer imagine the rest.
All foods are organically grown, period. I don’t believe that foods that are labeled beginning with a “9” are any more nutritious for one than any other food grown in the traditional manner, and the scientific evidence bears this out.

Dutchess_III's avatar

This is funny! It just occurred to me that this is almost like a religious debate. In spite of the overwhelming lack of evidence regarding the superiority of “organic” foods, many are yelling “I DO believe! I DO believe!” And those are the same people who would come down like a swarm of locusts on a Christian for believing in God, even though there is no scientific evidence for his existence!

rooeytoo's avatar

[Removed by Fluther]

And with regard to the USDA and its trustworthiness, I knew a vet who lost his ticket to practice because he was doctoring the papers of race horses. So you know who hired him, the USDA. So I don’t put much stock in that particular arm of the government.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh and @SavoirFaire @dontmindme didn’t prove me wrong about my claim that food stamps are given in excess. She just did what everyone else does when I pressed her for specifics. I asked what her income was at the time, how many in the household, and the amount of FS that she got. She never answered.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I realize this may be out of line, however; this is Dutchess_III’s daughter and I have a strong stand point on the food stamp and starvation issue. I will not claim that other states are the same, but I do feel that they are more than likely similar to mine in regards to food stamps and child hunger issues. I am a full time student and I receive food stamps myself and have always received really more than I need for me and my two children. My children DO NOT eat junk food though. They get home cooked nutritious meals every time they eat. The beauty of food stamps is that you can literally buy ANY KIND OF FOOD with them. Fresh, frozen, organic, raw, canned, candy, anything. It comes down to what you choose to buy. My children and I eat very healthy because I choose to shop that way. We may not be able to shop at a farmer’s market that is only open on the weekends, but there are organic food stores that gladly accept food stamps here. As for the child starvation issue; I know that since the “starvation” issue came to light in America that we have taken a stand against it. I am very puzzled though how is America the most obese nation in the world. Also, adolescent America obesity has tripled since 1980. So where is the starvation coming into play again? Or to quote Verne from the wonderful children’s movie Over the Hedge,” Really serious hungry pains.”

Dutchess_III's avatar

I….I…I can’t give you a GA Corrie!!

dabbler's avatar

@Dutchess_III “bananas are organic, period. Well duh. All food is.” Well, no. In this context ‘organic’ means something specific, not just a little ‘9’ tacked on the front of the number on the label.

And you certainly have a right to disbelieve the authenticity of ‘organic’ labeled food, and disbelieve that farming practices are overseen where the food is grown, but that is what the labels are supposed to mean, and you’ve shown no facts contrary to that. You just don’t believe it. Do you have any facts to support your doubt that the foods are grown differently and that the food production is monitored ?

Do you look at the labels on the gas pump and say to yourself, “Hah! That premium gas is the same stuff as regular, they just label it with 93 (octane) instead of 87 so they can charge more money for it!” Would there be any difference to your doubts about food labels?

“I don’t believe that foods that are labeled beginning with a “9” are any more nutritious for one than any other food grown in the traditional manner, and the scientific evidence bears this out.” What evidence is that ? There certainly is evidence that some of the things that are omitted from organic production methods are harmful to humans (e.g. most pesticides).

If anything has turned this into a religious debate, it’s the “beliefs”.
But since the OP is about why some people “feel” .... then, heck, beliefs are admissible.
But no reason to pretend beliefs are some other kind of facts though.

jca's avatar

Is there any evidence showing that an organic tomato has more nutrients than a regular, traditionally farmed tomato? If we analyzed the nutrition in an organic apple, is it going to be higher than in a regular apple grown with pesticides? I have not seen anything in either direction.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dabbler I know what organic is supposed to mean. I’m sure there are some small farmers who spin their wheels with all kinds of “organic” ways to grow fruit, which explains why “organically grown” food is more expensive. However, I have found not one single shred of evidence that suggest there is any difference between “organic” and “non-organic” foods.

Here is a good link to the May Clinic web site. In there they say, “The answer (is it more nutritious) isn’t yet clear. A recent study examined the past 50 years’ worth of scientific articles about the nutrient content of organic and conventional foods. The researchers concluded that organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are comparable in their nutrient content. Research in this area is ongoing. In other words, “No.”

I’m ready and still waiting for the proof that people were going out to retrieve that will prove me wrong.

dabbler's avatar

@jca Interesting question ref scientific evidence of higher nutrition in organic foods, I don’t know about that.

There is plenty of evidence that there is less poisonous stuff on them and in them, per all the links I posted before.
E.g. apples have whatever pesticides are used on them left on the skin, so if you eat the skin of the apple (which is a perfectly normal thing to do) you eat the pesticides.

So, I’m not sure how someone could say “not one single shred of evidence that there is any difference” unless you’re looking for proven nutritional benefit. There’s quite clearly a proven difference in poison content.
Personally I consider it a benefit to eat less poisons.

I’m also sure the taste is different, but not sure how that correlates to ‘nutrition’ and apparently some people consider the taste/flavor irrelevant.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@Dabbler…that’s the main thrust of those who prefer organically grown food. They believe it’s higher in nutrients and therefore more healthy for you. But there is no evidence for that.

Also, from what I’ve read, there is no difference in the taste. There may be a difference in appearance, as organically grown fruits and veggies are smaller and often mis-shapen. But that’s neither here nor there as size and shape don’t have anything to do with nutrition.

Also why would you think that “organic” / natural pesticides are any safer for humans? Poison is poison, and too much of anything is unhealthy. Arsenic is naturally occurring compound. Also from Wiki ” both conventional foods and organic foods generally have pesticide levels well below government established guidelines for what is considered safe.[2] From Wiki “The weight of the available scientific evidence has not shown a significant difference between organic and more conventionally grown food in terms of safety,[2][3][4] nutritional value,[3][5][6] or taste.[4][3]”

It’s funny, though, that the same people who we trust to oversee “organic farming” are the same people who we trust to decide what chemical pesticides are safe for minute consumption by people.

Also, in my reading, if a fruit or vegetable is grown least 95% organically, they can legally label the food as “organic.” I wonder what that other 5% might be. Probably fertilizers or pesticides or whatever, sprayed one time at a critical point in the growing of the crop.

dabbler's avatar

“why would you think that “organic” / natural pesticides are any safer for humans?”
What natural pesticides ?

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’ll start looking @dabbler. But of course they use something to control the bugs or they’d have no crops to sell!

dabbler's avatar

“Something” is techniques that do not employ pesticides – that’s part of what “organic” means, which you claim to know whether or not you believe it. Yes, do please start looking.

While you’re at it please start to read the links I posted waaaaaaaay up there that cite reasons to buy some food in particular in organic form, all of those reasons involve differences between the two kinds.

Dutchess_III's avatar

This is odd! I started here It’s a USDA website. I kept following links to other USDA websites. I see constant mention of “The National Organic Materials List,” but I can’t seem to actually find the list to see what’s on it! One place said it had a PDF file, but it never showed up. Another had a PDF but it just came up blank. Things that make you go “Hmmmmm.” That’s the government for you.

However, from this website I got this list:

Insecticidal Soap

Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis)

Neem (Contains 2 ingredients, azadirachtin (AZA0 and liminoids,)

Horticultural Oil (Highly refined petroleum oil….And that’s funny when you refer back to Indincedary Dan who clakimed that traditionial farming is done in “oil soaked mush!”)




Potassium Bicarbonate

And last, but not least, at the end it says, “Remember, just because a pesticide is organic doesn’t mean it’s not toxic. ”

For details go visit the website. It’s short, sweet and pretty interesting.

wundayatta's avatar

Here is a review linking to a number of articles demonstrating that there is evidence to show that organic produce is more nutritious than non organic produce. One study found that organic produce has more dry matter, minerals and antioxidant micronutrients than their non-organic counterparts. Another study showed that blueberry fruit grown organically yielded significantly higher fructose and glucose levels, malic acid, total phenolics, total anthocyanins and antioxidant activity than fruit grown using conventional methods.

There were a number of studies mentioned in this article. I didn’t look at all of them. On the one hand, I’m a little surprised, since it does seem reasonable to think that food is food. It’s all the same. On the other hand, just from a flavor point of view, I know that where the food is grown makes a big difference. My grantparents had this amazing bottom land that made the vegetables taste better than any other vegetables I’ve ever eaten.

So if the ground makes a difference, then surely that flavor difference could also be associated with nutritional difference. And if things taste better to us, then they are probably better for us, since our palates evolved to keep us alive; to seek out the best tasting foods which is the algorithm for the foods that are best for us—assuming evolution works.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I thought fructose was bad! I’ll go look at your links.

dabbler's avatar

Fructose is naturally occurring fruit sugar. That’s okay in moderation, but it is sugar.
High fructose corn syrup is considered pretty bad, nutrition-wise.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yeah….supposedly too much fructose is bad, so saying the blueberries had more fructose is not a positive for organic farming.

This is kind of funny! “A study has shown that organic soups sold commercially in the United Kingdom contain almost six times as much salicylic acid as non-organic soups.” Salicylic acid is the active ingredient in Compound W wart remover and in medicated shampoos. Obviously a certain amount of salicylic acid is a food stuffs, though who would a thunk it.

I read the article @wundayatta but it was, as everything else seems to be, inconclusive. In fact, the introduction states” There is mounting evidence that organically grown fruits, vegetables and grains may offer more of some nutrients, including vitamin C, iron, magnesium and phosphorus…” Oh wow. Wait. I clicked into the first link in that article, and right off the bat it contradicts the opening statement. This stated that organically grown food had LESS phosphorus. :(

That was an informative article. It was professionally and neutrally presented. Thanks for the link. It just wasn’t enough to convince me that I, or my family, is at some sort of risk by eating conventionally farmed foods. Ergo, nutritious food is not more expensive, unless you go looking for higher prices and labeling.

dabbler's avatar

Fructose is one of the reasons we grow and enjoy blueberries and it occurs at a tolerable level naturally in them. The factual perspective is that non-organic reduces this desirable quality.
Is there any reason to think the levels of fructose in blueberries are anywhere near “too much” levels, organic or otherwise, such that reducing them is a good idea ?

If you don’t want any fructose then don’t eat any blueberries, or anything else with fructose, reduced or not.

Salicylic acid is aspirin (yes, and a component of compound W). It occurs naturally in willows and its medicinal qualities have been know for millenium.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@dabbler No. No reason to think that fructose is at undesirable levels in either organically or conventionally grown blueberries.

I don’t mind fructose. I don’t mind any sugar, when it’s in the right foods (like BROWNIES!)

I’m sure salicylic acid is just fine for consumption at the levels found in organic and conventionally grown foods, and has nutritional value.

No argument there. But I found nothing to convince me to spend more money for organic foods. I found nothing to suggest that organically grown food is healthier than conventionally grown foods. You need X amounts of vitamins a day. Anything after that is redundant, and conventionally grown food provides all the vitamins we need at far less the cost. Even if organically grown food provided more (and there is no real proof that it does) it doesn’t mean it’s better for us. The only real concern I would have is the pesticides. Organic pesticides are toxic too. And both have levels of pesticides that are far below the required minimum by the USDA.

wundayatta's avatar

For me, it’s about taste. Taste is subjective, of course, but I find organic fruits and vegetables to generally taste better. I think a lot of that is because they are faster from farm to market. They tend to be sold closer to the farm. Less fossil fuels are used in bringing organic foods to market.

Then again, that changes as agribusiness gets into the organic business. They you’re shipping lettuce from California again. But they still won’t be able to compete with local produce on taste. And organic farms usually seem to offer a wider variety of items. You get your heirloom tomatoes and weird varieties of squash and peppers and you get poke (which I believe is nettles). All these things are far tastier than what you can get in a supermarket—even a Whole Foods.

Whole Foods will have eye candy vegetables. Everything is bigger, and they do emphasize freshness and do a good job of it, but they still don’t seem to get the flavor thing going. Yes, it tastes better than most supermarkets, but still not as good as farm stand produce.

But the farmer’s markets all sell organic stuff, mostly. I really don’t care. Except for the pesticides. I like the idea of no pesticides. But otherwise, I want flavor and flavor comes from the farmers market, and the farmers market sells organic, and it is expensive, I think. Then again, I don’t look at prices when it comes to food. I just look at quality and I’ll pay just about whatever they ask.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@wundayatta I can’t answer to that about taste. I’d have to participate in a blind taste test. But don’t forget the bananas that come from Ecuador. Certainly not from our local farmers!

We have a farmer’s market. We’re also in the middle of farm country. I wonder if they just take a small percentage of their crop and take it to sell themselves, and make a little money by cutting out the supermarket! I couldn’t tell you if they’re “organic” or not. But you certainly can’t get the stuff during the winter, but you can in the super markets.

Also, organic farmers DO use pesticides. They are supposedly organic and they are toxic to humans in concentrated amounts. See my post here.

wundayatta's avatar

They do use pesticides, but they don’t have to. There are other ways of dealing with pests. Ways of plowing. Ways of changing the timing of planting things.

And for me, bananas are not an issue. I don’t eat them. I don’t like the taste of raw banana.

Dutchess_III's avatar

What about banana bread???!!!!

wundayatta's avatar

Banana bread is ok, as are cooked bananas. Just really don’t like raw bananas.

Dutchess_III's avatar

OK! I’ll let you live!
Hey….my tomatoes right out of my garden are AWESOME. So the taste difference may simply be the length of time between picking the fruit or veggie from the vine, and getting it to the table. I wouldn’t think that would affect the nutrient content though.

wundayatta's avatar

Time to table does affect nutrient content, I believe. The fresher the better. Please don’t ask for studies about that. Just trust your tongue.

Dutchess_III's avatar

LOL! OK. I DO believe! I DO believe!

jca's avatar

I am one of the many people who used to think that “organic” meant “zero pesticides.” A few years ago my cats had fleas and googled ways to treat the fleas. (Stay with me, here) In my research (which is how I came to Fluther), I found that when you use over the counter flea treatments, in order for them to be effective, they must contain Pyrethrin. I learned all about Pyrethrin, and in that learning, I learned that Pyrethrin (or the group “pyrethrins”) are an organic pesticide. So, suffice to say, something that is effective at killing fleas is something that is FDA approved as an organic pesticide. It may be organic, but would you want to eat it? I’d say not.

I also learned a lot about organic farming in the book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” by Michael Pollan, food critic from the NY TImes. He talks extensively about huge organic farms that are not a whole lot different in their farming practices than regular farms. He discusses how when you go to a store like Whole Foods and see photos of people on farms, you think that’s what the farms that supply the Whole Foods food are like, but they’re not. He describes huge organic farms, like Earthbound Farms. It’s very interesting and I suggest people read at least those few chapters for themselves.

As far as nutrient levels, I said I didn’t see any evidence in either direction. I am open to both sides on that one. As far as pesticides go, however, I know what I know about pyrethrins and fleas, and I know that’s considered organic, so go figure.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You HAVE to have some sort of pesticides for crops. Have to. Or you’ll lost most of it.

This is funny….Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) is one of the “organic” pesticides often used in organic farming. I subscribe to Snopes “What’s new” series. This, coincidentally, showed up just today regarding Bt. (Can’t nobody win for losing, can we!)
Monsanto has released its first direct-to-consumer product, a GM sweet corn containing Bt toxin, designed to protect the plant by rupturing the stomach of any insect that feeds on it. Monsanto claims the toxin will break down before the corn makes it to your dinner table, but rats fed the GM corn showed organ failure and the toxin has been detected in the bodies of pregnant women. Snopes

Am I worried about it? Nope.

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