More than ever we’re under pressure to eat well and shop responsibly. It’s been drilled into us that processed foods are a no-no – we must source our food locally, we need to know where our food has come from and exactly what’s in it. After all, you are what you eat Rebels. It’s difficult, right? Especially when buying organic food is so expensive...
Or is it? What is the true cost comparison of organic vs non-organic? Let’s take a closer look.
We have a very basic understanding of the word “organic”
There’s much more to “organic” than it being trendy or fashionable or ‘slightly better for you and the planet’. Few of us really know or understand what factors affect the price of “organic”. As Rebels, we are committed to knowing all there is to know about our products and sharing everything we know with you, we call this Radical Honesty – so let’s be radically honest about the real reasons that organic costs more.
Firstly, there is the issue of supply and demand. Frankly, there are not enough farmers growing organic food to meet the demand. According to a report by FiBL & IFOAM – Organics International, just 2.7% percent of the agricultural land in Europe is organic so there simply isn’t the means to produce on mass like large non-organic farms.
Organic farming methods require human care and attention to detail, which takes more time – and time is money. Organic farmers have to plan their crop rotations meticulously and use alternative methods to boost crop yields such as nitrogen capture, creating wildflower field margins and introducing animals as a source of natural fertiliser.
In order to become certified and registered as “organic” under EU Law, organic farms have to go through rigorous testing and inspections, which of course, comes at a cost. However, The Soil Association, who carry out the testing in the UK have a not-for-profit arm offering support services for organic farms and lobbying the government for sustainable farming systems. So, every time you buy certified organic (or anything from our Mylk® or Coconut Water ranges), you’re contributing to a better food system. *Rebel applause*
The system is broken
So, here’s the thing, the idea that you save money by not shopping organic is false. From comparing receipts or scouring the supermarket at a glance, you may disagree but stay here, Rebels…
There are a number of hidden costs associated with mass-produced and intensively farmed foods. Sure, there are factors that push up the price of organic, (including certification, environmental protection and higher animal welfare standards) but do we really understand how non-organic food is priced?
Crops used to make processed (and mostly unhealthy) foods such as soy, wheat and corn are highly subsidised by the government. This harks back to World War 2, where the intention was to feed as many people as cheaply as possible: effective at the time, and essential for survival, but this system still exists today. As Martin Hawarth from the National Farmers’ Union says “If you look at who receives the payments, it all comes down to manufacturing ingredients. These are the things that are in nearly all processed products around the world. Subsidies have provided them as cheap raw materials and the money’s gone on the bottom line for processors”. Essentially, the way the current system is set up discourages sustainable food production.
How much more expensive would organic products really be if processed food wasn’t so heavily subsidised? We call that: food for thought.
Pay more now, save more later
Unlike organic food producers, most non-organic farmers rely heavily on pesticides to protect their crops and deter pests. In fact, these farms have been so reliant on pesticides for such a long time that many pests have become tolerant to them, which means stronger, more dangerous and polluting pesticides need to be used for the same effect… And no surprise, this has a hugely detrimental effect on the environment, resulting in polluted rivers and waterways, which needs money to fix, right? So where does this come from? In 2016, Anglican Water announced that it needed almost six hundred million pounds to treat drinking water contaminated with slug pellet treatment, which resulted in a 21% increase in customer bills. Nice, refreshing glass of metaldehyde, anyone? So whatever you save at the checkout, we’ll end up paying later in our water bills and taxes, to compensate for the damage.
The same goes for the environment. The clearing of land for livestock, dairy farms and crops to feed animals is devastating for climate change and ecosystems. We’ve all seen the shocking images of the Amazon rainforest fire which provoked a stunned reaction all over the world – but the truth is, every year tens of thousands of small agricultural fires are lit around the edges of the rainforest to clear land for crops and livestock. According to recent research, if deforestation continues in the Amazon, as much as 40% of it could be gone by 2050. Carbon emissions are rising, ecosystems are falling apart and whole species are being wiped out, so governments are being forced to pay for the damage. According to Statista, the total public sector expenditure on environmental protection reached approximately 11.2 billion British pounds in 2018/19. And guess where this money comes from? You got it Rebels…
Did you know that 40% of all antibiotics consumed in the UK are used on farm animals? Shocking, right? Organic farmers invest a lot of time and money into caring for their animals: providing clean, humane living conditions and free range farms (where animals can roam freely), safe transportation and a responsible use of antibiotics which means the animals are healthier and bear quality meat. On the flip side, intensively-farmed animals are kept in poor conditions that encourage disease and discomfort, resulting in poor quality meat for the end-consumer. Consuming poor quality, processed meats that were bred on a reliance on antibiotics has been shown to contribute to diseases such as obesity, diabetes, cancers, heart disease and even antibiotic resistance. So, the more we consume these foods, the more we pay in taxes to run our already-overstretched NHS.
Why you pay a little more for Mylk®
So, how do Rebel fit into all of this? What’s it got to do with us? At Rebel Kitchen, we believe in healthy humans. We use minimally-processed, plant-based ingredients to make our healthy alternative ranges (that taste mind-blowingly good). That’s why we only use organic ingredients and NEVER use GMOs, synthetic additives or refined sugars. In fact, looking forward to 2025, we want full transparency of our supply-chain so we can trace everything back to source, a principal that’s depressingly alien for a lot of food brands you know. We pledge to work even closer with our suppliers to monitor the use of finite resources like water and energy, and we’re working towards supporting regenerative agriculture systems, whereby organic soil matter is rebuilt and degraded soil biodiversity is restored.
So, next time you’re in the supermarket or ordering online, you may notice that Rebel Kitchen Mylk® costs a bit more than most alternative milks. Now you know why…
Remember, you have a choice. There is always an alternative. Be a Rebel.