Natural Foods Cost More: Are They Worth It?

Thinking natural foods are a good choice for your family?

If you keep up with food news you’ve probably heard about “pink slime”. Pink slime is a disgusting ammonia treated beef by product concoction that’s made its way into 70 percent of supermarket hamburger meat over the past several years.

Whether you’ve eaten at restaurants or purchased your ground beef through grocery stores, we’ve all probably eaten our unfair share of pink slime without even knowing it!

While we thought we were paying for a pound of ground beef, we were really paying for ¾ pound of ground beef and ¼ pound of pink slime. 25% of ground beef is made of pink slime.

Natural Foods Cost More: Are They Worth It?When I read this in my local newspaper last week, I was so happy I’d given up red meat years ago! But, nevertheless, I’m indignant about what food producers are trying to pull. What other foods am I eating that are actually NOT food!?

While Food Lion, Farm Fresh, and a few other supermarket chains have said they will no longer carry the adulterated meat, news like this sends consumers on a hunt for better alternatives to feed their family.

This hunt for better standards leads many to the world of organic and natural foods.

Many who begin their quest for healthy foods soon learn that natural and organic foods often cost more than their conventionally grown counterparts. So the question becomes, “Is it worth it?”

I’m one to save a dollar at every turn; I’m constantly looking for coupons, particularly organic food coupons. But when it comes to what I put inside my body, I’m not skimping! Eating is one of the most fundamental things we do in life. It’s right to treat it as such.

Once you’ve made the choice to “go healthy”, finding a way to pay for it becomes the next concern. You may find that healthy choices require that you give up eating out as often, that you avoid fast food altogether, or even that you give up cable TV or some other discretionary expenditure that keeps you from being able to afford healthy foods.

I’ve personally made the choice to go healthy and give up things I really didn’t need over 10 years ago. This wasn’t for the purpose of saving money, but because I wanted to be healthier.  However, I can testify that I save more than enough money by not having cable TV than I spend on the upgrade to organic food choices.

Do I miss pink slime in my burgers, phosphoric acid in my beverages, or high fructose corn syrup and hydrogenated oil in just about everything else? Absolutely not! Do I miss going out to eat as often? Sometimes. But now I search for trustworthy restaurants and eat out on special occasions (making them more special). I also host lots of dinner parties, and this gives me my “night out” fix!

Navigating The World of Organic Foods Versus Natural Foods

So, you’ve made the commitment to select healthy foods for yourself and your family. You’re in the grocery store and you reach for the box with the word, “natural” printed on it. STOP!!!

Remember the people who brought you pink slime? Those same people (food industry peeps) love their marketing ploys! And the evil genius who thought up the slogan “Natural Foods” is laughing all the way to the bank.

You’re smart enough not to fall for the “natural foods” hype! After all, you’re reading this article!

There’s a big difference between organic and natural foods. That’s not to say that all natural foods are bad (they’re not). However, many foods labeled “natural” are no different, let me repeat, NO DIFFERENT than conventionally produced foods. That is, they might not really be “natural foods”.

This means they’re grown using synthetic pesticides and non-organic fertilizers, routine antibiotics (for animals), and they may be created from genetically engineered means.

Organic products, by contrast, are grown using non-synthetic, naturally occurring pesticides, fertilizers, and fungicides, and antibiotics only for the treatment of disease.

That’s not to say organic produce and meat are completely pesticide free, but you’ll find far less pesticides. There’s an amazing tool to show you exactly what pesticides are found on dozens of common organic vs. conventional, “natural” foods at What’s On My Food. (http://www.whatsonmyfood.org/food.jsp?food=CR).

Why are so many products popping up in the grocery store with the words, “Natural Foods” printed on the packaging? As food industry scandals continue to surface, marketers are cashing in on the fact that consumers want to make better health choices when it comes to buying food.

Natural foods, like conventional foods, are cheaper to produce than organic foods because there are no legal standards and no governing body to define the word, “natural”.

They are often the same product as the conventional produced foods with the only difference being the word “natural” printed on the box. Yet, most products sold as natural foods cost just as much as organic foods. And the only difference between the conventional and the “natural” is the label; that is the marketing. And you’re not going to pay for marketing, are you?

Don’t waste your money on natural foods unless you know what you’re buying. Some natural foods are “almost” organically grown and contain minimal processing. Other so-called natural foods barely resemble anything that’s actually found in nature at all.

Natural foods may contain the same GMOs, hormones, food colorings and preservatives and pesticides as conventional foods. Carefully read the labels of the products you purchase.

When you buy conventional products labeled “natural”, you actually hurt organic farmers because they’re competing for the same market, and simply cannot produce a truly organic product for less than a conventional one. They’re forced to lower standards to compete price-wise with products that really aren’t in the same league.

When it comes down to it, we must all be our own advocates for food choices. We must put our time money where our mouth is (pun intended) and do a little research before heading down the grocery aisle.

If we don’t, we’ll soon all be saying, “More pink slime, please!”

About Jennifer Scheffel

Jennifer Scheffel blogs about saving money, living frugally and how best to save with coupons. Jennifer’s goal in life is to pursue all things, even ordinary chores, with passion and purpose. Her interests include education, classical piano, running, cooking for friends, hosting parties and homemaking.

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  • JD

    I am glad you addressed these points about our food supply.  We totally stopped eating out and make as much as possible from scratch.  We are gradually increasing the amount of organic foods and various products as our budge enables us to.  I do think it can depend on the region of the country you live in what kind of prices you will pay for organic foods.  We live in an extremely small community and have to drive a bit over 30 miles round trip to find a lot of organic products we want.  Unfortunately the prices are quite high so we are taking baby steps in the quest to become all organic consumers.

  • http://christianpf.com/ John

    I like your point that not all natural foods are actually natural. It’s so difficult to buy food that hasn’t been tampered with, what do we do? I believe in one thing: buying local foods is one of the best things we can do for our ourselves – even if it costs a bit more.

  • valleycat1

    Buying organic or minimally processed foods does not directly result in a higher food bill.  Some of the big box stores carry organic lines that are comparably priced with conventional. 

    And externally applied chemicals as well as most injested chemicals (except hormones which are now outlawed for use in dairy, for example) used in farm production do not remain as those products in the items – they are broken down into component substances that are either washed off or excreted before you consume them. We steer clear of highly processed foods as much as possible, but most conventional versions of produce, meat & dairy are entirely safe (fyi, for ground meat we buy a roast and grind it in our food processor).