You are on page 1of 14

1

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?

Are the Health Benefits Worth the Price?


James Madison University
Jessie Lynn Gibson

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?

Abstract
In this paper, I will analyze the key differences in opinions of three different authors, on organic
foods. Organic produce is significantly more expensive than conventional produce due to the
health benefits and the farming process that makes produce organic. It is said to be better for the
body because of little to no chemicals being used as a pesticide on the plants. This paper will
compare and contrast the health benefits of organic foods versus conventional foods as well as
compare and contrast the prices between conventional and organic food.

Keywords: organic, produce, conventional, farming, costs

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?


College students are faced with buying their own groceries at some point during their
college career and there are many options when it comes to purchasing groceries. There is
conventional, 100% organic, organic, and made with organic products. It is said that organic
products are better for you, but the prices are hard on the wallet. Students like to get the best
bang for their buck meaning that they want to get a good deal, so they dont take into
consideration the health benefits of organic products and go for cheaper conventional products.
Supermarkets are attracting customers with health claims in order to make an extra profit
on organic products. Stores lure in customers with organic labels because these foods are
supposed to have fewer pesticides, be more nutritious, and less processed. It is a big obligation
for farmers to be organic. In order to receive certification from the US Department of Agriculture
(USDA) farmers have to provide a three year history of the procedures and practices. The
farmers who meet the requirements have to plan the use of the organic seeds, pest control aids,
and natural fertilizers such as manure or composting, as well as avoiding contact with nonorganic substances. This can mean by harvest or shipping. The real eye catcher of organic foods
is that they are produced with less pesticide remainder than conventional crops, but conventional
foods have less than five percent of the Acceptable Dietary Intake of pesticide residue. Thus
meaning eating non-organic foods means that people take in 95% less than what we can consume
and be safe. The so called benefits of lower pesticides are countered with high prices because
producing organic foods is more labor and produces lower crop yields. Normal foods are healthy
and nutritious which seems to make organic foods an unneeded expense. For the average college
student this is a relief because organic products take a damper on the wallet. (Bahl, 2015)
The greatest difference between organic and non-organic foods are the amount of
nutrients and the amount of antioxidants. About 60 percent of organic produce has more nutrients

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?


than non-organic produce. Over half of the organic samples of fruits, vegetables and select grains
had greater nutrient levels than conventional foods. According to a study The Organic Center did
in 2008, the average serving of produce contained 25% more nutrients than the same size serving
of the same food produced by conventional methods. Five to ten years ago there was a lot of
focus on fruits and vegetables and thee focus has now moved to research on organic grains.
Studies suggest that there is supremacy in organic grains concerning some nutrients, mainly
antioxidants. With fewer artificial pesticides and stimulants, organic farming mock natural stress
conditions which encourages plants to make a larger spectrum of phytochemicals. When the
plants produce phytochemicals it works as a protection against natural stresses. These
phytochemicals work as antioxidants in the human body. People believe that organic farming has
matched the yields of conventional farming. In the developing world organic farming has
enhanced yield and nutritional quality. (Smith, 2015)
Today we live in a world where we worry about climate change, natural resources are
depleting and our food systems are relying on fossil fuels. The author Megan Kimble ate only
unprocessed foods for a year endorsing her local food system. In reality all food goes through
some form of processing, by means of packaging, ingathering, or heat. Over half the produce the
United States receives in the winter is from Mexico. There is nothing local or unprocessed about
that. What makes piece of produce more processed than another is what is required to get it from
the field to the plate. About 91 cents of every dollar American shoppers spend on food goes to
suppliers, marketers, and retailers. The farmers who grow the produce we consume only receive
nine cents of every dollar we spend. If consumers stopped buying from companies that sell
cheap, processed foods, companies would be forced to stop producing them. The authors
community hosts a SNAP challenge where people spend 30 dollars a week on groceries. This is

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?


about $ 1.40 a meal, not nearly enough to shop for local produce. Thirty dollars is enough to
purchase minimal fresh produce, potatoes, beans, and rice at a store like Walmart. The way to
make local organic foods accessible is to rewrite the farm bill, this is the legislation that supports
industrial farmers of major crops such as corn, rice, soybeans and cotton. For example organic
broccoli is more expensive than processed corn because the government does not subsidize
organic broccoli farmers. As consumers we have the power to change the system. (Kimble, 2015)
The article Organic foods are not better than conventionally grown foods and I ate
only unprocessed foods for a year are similar because the both discuss the prices of food. Both
of the authors are recent college graduates who discuss the affordability of organic food. In
Bahls article it is clear that organic prices are a bit out of range for the average college student
and that it does not matter if you eat organic or conventional foods as long as healthy choices are
made. Kimbles article demonstrated what its like to be on a small budget when she did the
SNAP challenge. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a food stamp
program, it does not provide a lot but gives enough to get small amounts of fresh produce from a
supermarket like Walmart. She believes that organic is better and getting produce locally helps
the community.
Organic foods or unprocessed foods have many health benefits according to Organic
food is nutritionally superior and the article I only ate unprocessed foods for a year. Both of
these articles discuss the nutritional value of eating organic foods. Organic food is nutritionally
superior focuses on the antioxidants that are in organic food that is not found in conventional
produce. Megan Kimble discusses, that by buying local produce and organic foods she could
control what chemical processes are undergone before consuming her food, in her article, I ate

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?


only unprocessed foods for a year. Both of these articles are in favor of organic produce for the
health benefits of more nutrients and less processing overall.
Organic farming is a time consuming process. Both articles Organic foods are not better
than conventionally grown foods and I ate only unprocessed foods for a year briefly discuss
the cost and the time put into organic farming. The United States Department of Agriculture
(USDA) defines organic foods as ones that preserve biodiversity, support animal health and
welfare, use approved materials, are inspected on site and utilize fewer herbicides and
pesticides (Bahl, 2015). Thus meaning it is a time consuming and expensive process to be an
organic farmer. The certification needed to be an organic farmer requires three year
documentation of the farms procedures and practices before the USDA certifies the farm. The
article by Kimble discusses the low wage of which the farmers get paid per dollar spent. The
middleman typically receives 91 cents of every dollar spent leaving 9 cents to the farmer.
Organic food is a controversial topic because a lot of people say there are more nutrients
in organic foods than conventional foods, but the real problem is people believe they are paying
too much for health claims. In the article by Bahl it comes down to just making healthy choices
by the foods you eat, like eat an apple and not a bag of chips. She states, When it comes to
health, there is no difference between organic and conventional produce. Both offer the same
nutrient values. This is where there is conflict between Bahls article and Smiths. Smiths
article, Organic food is nutritionally superior is all about why organic is the best choice. His
article states, The average serving of organic plant-based food contained about 25% more of the
nutrients encompassed in this study than a comparable-sized serving of the same food produced
by conventional farming methods. These two articles believe the exact opposite about organic
foods.

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?


As we all know organic food is not accessible to everyone due to an economic barrier. I
ate only unprocessed foods for a year and Organic foods are not better than conventionally
grown foods are fairly different in opinions on this topic. Bahls article makes organic produce
seem unobtainable for the average college student and in Kimbles article she makes it seem
easily affordable but breaks it down into how much she spent in a year on unprocessed foods.
Americans spend about 5.6 percent of their income on food consumed at home. Kimble being a
graduate student was earning just under $17,000 and spend $4,900 on unprocessed food for a
year; thats roughly 27% of her income. Even though she spends an obscene amount of her
yearly salary on unprocessed foods she still continues to do so.
Two of the articles were similar because the authors being a college graduate and the
other being a student in college and then the third article was by a policy director with the
Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture. Since both articles are written at a college level they
are well written but are also easy to understand. This caused the messages to come across
differently, though all of them were effective. Smith the policy director had past studies and more
current studies relating to the health benefits of organic products making it the better source of
information. Whereas the other had great information but did not really refer to any studies in the
articles.
Organic foods are not better than conventionally grown foods an article written by a
college student at Iowa State University is well written. She gives a great amount of detail to
why organic is not better than conventional foods price wise. It appeals to her audience, college
students because it discusses that you can still eat healthy on a budget. She gives the facts about
the three different types of organic labels, 100% organic, organic, and made with organic
ingredients. The main focus of the article was to let college students know that you do not have

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?


to eat organic to be healthy in college and that being healthy in college does not have to break the
bank.
My second article analyzed, Organic food is nutritionally superior was by far the best
source I used. The author was well read on the topic of antioxidants and nutrients. The article
contains recent and past studies conducted and the results of each one. Smith is successful in
conveying the information in a way that it is still accessible but does not take away from the
scientific value of her writing. The strongest quote from the reading is, The average serving of
organic plant- based food contained about 25% more of the nutrients encompassed in this study
than a comparable sized serving of the same food produced by conventional farming methods,
because it compares the two methods of farming per serving size and gives the statistic of 25%
(Smith, 2015).
I ate only unprocessed foods for a year was an interesting piece written by a college
graduate. Her information is reliable. Though this was more of a narrative of her experience, I
got a lot out of reading this article. I love that the author took the time to calculate what
percentage of her income she spent on unprocessed foods for a year. It was eye opening too see
how much money we as Americans spend on groceries. She states, Americans spend a relatively
small fraction of their disposable income on food consumed at home 5.6%, it may not seem
like a lot but it adds up (Kimble, 2015). She also mentions SNAP in her article this is a food
stamp organization and how challenging it is to purchase fresh produce on a low amount of
money.
Before reading these three articles I was on the fence about the debate over organic and
conventionally grown foods because I cannot physically see a difference between the two but, I
can sure see the difference in prices when paying for groceries. After reading Organic food is

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?


nutritionally superior, I formed an opinion on the topic. I learned that there is more nutritional
value and antioxidants in organic products, which make them a lot better for you than
conventionally grown products. I believe that the nutritional value that comes with organic foods
is worth the price.

10

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?


References
Bahl, M. (2015). Organic Foods Are Not Better than Conventionally Grown Foods. In A. Francis
(Ed.), At Issue. Organic Food. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press. (Reprinted from
IowaStateDaily.com, 2014, March 27) Retrieved from
http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?
failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&displ
ayquery=&mode=view&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&dviSelectedPage=&limiter=&cu
rrPage=&disableHighlighting=&displayGroups=&sortBy=&zid=&search_within_results
=&p=OVIC&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE
%7CEJ3010949208&source=Bookmark&u=viva_jmu&jsid=ff60ae52e9adf0e505009647
c0887f10
Kimble, M. (2015, December 18). I ate only unprocessed foods for a year. Retrieved March 14,
2016, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/i-ate-only-unprocessed-foods-fora-year/2015/12/18/e78cd72a-979c-11e5-94f0-9eeaff906ef3_story.html
Smith, E., Davis, D. R., & Benbrook, C. (2015). Organic Food Is Nutritionally Superior. In A.
Francis (Ed.), At Issue. Organic Food. Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press.
(Reprinted from Organic Farming and Nutrient Content, Organic-Center.org, 2012)
Retrieved from
http://ic.galegroup.com/ic/ovic/ViewpointsDetailsPage/ViewpointsDetailsWindow?
failOverType=&query=&prodId=OVIC&windowstate=normal&contentModules=&displ
ayquery=&mode=view&displayGroupName=Viewpoints&dviSelectedPage=&limiter=&cu

11

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?


rrPage=&disableHighlighting=&displayGroups=&sortBy=&zid=&search_within_results
=&p=OVIC&action=e&catId=&activityType=&scanId=&documentId=GALE
%7CEJ3010949207&source=Bookmark&u=viva_jmu&jsid=866166268574d44ae928916
f71801d48

12

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?

13

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?

14

ARE THE HEALTH BENEFITS WORTH THE PRICE?