Since we’ve only one salary to live on, Melanie and I have made a resolution to get our budget into shape. A major part of that budget, of course, is food and because we love cooking and good food, we’re learning to be creative. It’s not like beef tenderloin was a regular entree (like never!), but we often pay more for every day items that are higher quality.
For example, we buy organic milk mainly because it is certified free of bovine growth hormones (BGH) and other additives that some say are harmful to developing children. I feel better knowing that Isabella and Melanie, who’s carrying Sophie now, aren’t ingesting it, however safe the government and the dairy industry say it is. Not to mention that it tastes better: 2 percent milk tastes like whole milk and even skim tastes like 1 percent.
Unfortunately, we pay about twice as much or even more per gallon for the privilege of being free of these additives. And it seems we’ll soon be forced to pay even more.
The forces that have driven grocery prices up sharply over the past year - growing demand for food in China and a global biofuels boom - have had an impact on the organic food market as well. Meanwhile, US farmers haven’t kept pace with demand for organic food, sales of which shot up 21 percent in 2006, and that has also sent prices soaring.
And supplies of organic soybeans and grains are squeezed - not only are they needed for human consumption, they serve as feed for the animals that will be sent to market as certified organic beef, chicken, and pork.
In addition to those aforementioned reasons, the process for going organic is extremely costly and time-consuming. For one thing it takes three years of no pesticides or any of the other materials before the organic label can be applied and all your resources have to be organic too, such as water and animal feed. The farmers just can’t go organic faster than the consumers do it and so demand outstrips supply and prices rise.
I don’t know if we’ll go without our organic milk or if we’ll just have more bean-and-rice dinners to compensate, but it’s not easy or cheap to do the right thing nutritionally for your family.