More Grocery Gloom and Doom: Organic Sticker Shock in the New York Times

Another article today on rising food prices, this time in the New York Times Business section. Sticker Shock in the Organic Aisles tells us that organic prices are rising rapidly, and the premium that some shoppers have been willing to pay for organic may be getting out of hand.

It turns out that the costly, time-intensive process to convert fields and land to be organic-certified may be less and less worth it for farmers as their costs go up and incentives for growing corn for biofuels makes conventional farming hugely profitable.

So, are we all going to need second mortgages to afford our organic groceries? Will we have to compromise with $8 organic milk and $1 Aldi's high-fructose-corn-syrup cereals? What's the takeaway for those of us committed to eating food grown without pesticides, chemical fertilizers or antibiotics?

Here are our thoughts. First off, go and read the article. What strikes you first? We were most impressed by the apparently decreasing incentives for farmers to go organic. That is sad to us, and also hard to accept. We can understand rising prices, as demand for organic feed and grain affect everything from the bread industry to feedlots and meat prices. But what if price isn't even issue - what if there simply aren't enough farmers to meet demand?

Our takeaway is that as demand goes up and holds steady, we do believe that there will be farmers to step in and meet the needs for organic milk, meat, and produce for those willing to pay very high prices.

But what about the rest of the country, and those of us who do need to make some compromises? Will there be a large enough movement toward organics to sustain the consumers who are newly interested in organics?

We are also thinking that higher prices may really push people to understand organics better. What does it really mean to buy organic, and where is it most worth it? How is our food grown? It may also push people to more local sources as they scavenge farmers markets for good deals and friendly local farmers, as opposed to the high prices at Whole Foods.

What struck you most from this piece? Do you agree with it, and what do you think will be the fallout of these rising prices?

(Image: The New York Times)

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