Budgeting for Organic: One Woman’s Findings

Source: Kerry Glassburn


While I don’t pay as much attention to my grocery budget as I should, I did notice an increase in my monthly bills after making the switch to organic products. It didn’t seem significant at the time, but over the course of a few months, I began to wonder if organic products were really that much more expensive. I decided it was time to do some research and pay attention to exactly what I was spending and on what.

The first thing I asked was, “Is organic food always more expensive than conventional?” I was pretty sure the answer was yes, but then the real question is, “How much more expensive?” During the last shopping trip to my local grocery store, I did some comparison shopping with a few more commonly purchased items. The results? On average, organic items cost about 42% more than conventional or store brand items at my local grocery store, with the best deal being various produce and the worst being orange juice.

Then I began to wonder if where I shopped for organic products would make a difference in the cost. My next stop was a chain natural food store to see how their prices compared on the same items. I was surprised to find that prices could be significantly lower at these stores for two reasons: store-brand organic products and more selection. In fact, many of the prices were comparable to conventional products, making the decision to buy organic that much easier. Again, produce had the least price variation between stores, making it the easiest to buy anywhere. However, the chain store did have a much larger organic produce section than most local grocers.

Here are my findings from my grocery store adventures:

(one gallon)

Ground hamburger
(per lb.)

Orange juice
(1/2 gallon)

(per lb.)

Fuji apples
(per lb.)

(per container)
Conventional $3.29 $4.29 $3.57 $1.99 $1.29 $.69
Organic at
grocery store
$4.99 $5.49 $5.19 $1.99 $1.49 $1.19
Organic at chain
natural food store
$3.39 $4.29 $3.69 $1.99 $1.99 $.89

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