Dilemma at the Grocery Store! $6.87 for 2 Grapefruit? The Price of Organics

IMG_6554 $3.43 seemed like a lot of money for 1 grapefruit. Sure they’re organic, from California, seasonal and apparently have a lovely magenta hue, but still $3.43 for 1 grapefruit seemed to stick in my craw.  The non-organic ones were .99 cents a pound.  Now before I start to sound like my grandfather: I remember when Grapefruits were 3 for a nickel! IMG_6555 I have no problem with spending more for better produce.  For the record I also think that Whole Foods in my experience of them in NYC are very well priced, particularly if you buy the house 365 Organic brand.  For basics like flour, sugar, cereal, Peanut Butter etc they offer high quality organic products for tremendous value.

Sure they have high-end local cheese, oils, meats and specialty items, but if you buy luxury items anywhere you will spend a lot of money, portraying them as whole paycheck, is unfair.

Citrus has its big season here starting in early January and going through late March (ish).  It the only time you can easily find Blood Oranges, the best tasting Grapefruits and a lot of other wonderfully delicious citrus.

It’s a conundrum: buying organic is more expensive, my rational is, the more people who support organic farming the more organic farming there will be and the cheaper the prices will become. Obviously in this case that hasn’t happened! I suppose if I was going to make a fancy dish with them like this Dtam Som Oh it might be worth it  (I’d add shrimp or crab to this recipe).  But to just have a snack during the day?

As someone who is very concerned where their food comes from and the way it was grown I was a little taken aback by my reaction.  It’s not like I couldn’t afford them it was just I felt they were asking too much.  But then I had to ask myself the question: what is too much?  What is the real value of our food and what are we willing to pay for it?

I ended up buying the pesticide soaked commercially grown ones for 99 cents a pound.

What would you have done?IMG_6553



About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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6 Responses to Dilemma at the Grocery Store! $6.87 for 2 Grapefruit? The Price of Organics

  1. cbcreates says:

    I would have bought the 99¢ ones withoit hestitation. For seversl reasons. Top is I can’t afford a $3 grapefruit, even if I needed or wanteed it. Citrus is generally considered clean food, even if sprayed, unless you eat the thick skin. Pestacides, as reprehensible as they are, cannot be applied within a certain amount of days before harvest and are washed off during packing. And organic food isn’t the be all end all holy grail. Industrial organic mega farms still can use pesticides, albeit natural, that can throw beneficial insects out of whack. Aldo, organic doesn’t mean they are using best land conservation practices. Often they are the crunchy division of a large conventional operation. Buying the Organic designation is an expensive and exclusive brand syndicate that lots of more conscientious and conservationists farmers can’t afford to buy into. Also, If it’s being shipped to NYC from California it’s already less than sustainable and seasonal, from a local standpoint. Florida fruit (or even north east mexican) would come with 2000 fewer petro miles.

    Deep down I just think Whole Foods and most grocery store chains disingenuously play the guilt card by categorically offering paralell organic and conventional option of most or all produce with organic costing many times more. I don’t trust that the price differential is based on anything but a marketing formula and not actual costs.

    • urbanfoodguy says:

      Thanks Chris! Great response and very informative. I probably should be more carful with using the description “pesticide soaked”. For me the marketing distinction between organic and other is made to so great it indeed with certain fruits and vegetables the difference is not so great. Celery and Apples are worst because they don’t have a thick skin like citrus. And yeah who the hell does have 3 buck plus change for a Grapefruit? It’s absurd! The ones I did buy where delicious.

      As for sesonal I do try and by citrus from Florida and Texas. the 99 cent ones where from Florida.
      Anyway thanks for such a lengthy smart informed response !

  2. Leslie-Anne says:

    If I was trying to decide if it was worth it to pay $3.43 for one grapefruit I would compare it to other one time snacks/treats that I might pay that much, or more, for. I have paid that much for a cupcake. I have paid more than that for a bottle of beer. Fruit smoothies, fancy granola bars… the list goes on. The grapefruit at least does not come in any plastic packaging and I don’t have to go out of my way to get it – I’m already at the grocery store. I’m not independently wealthy, so I may have bought the .99 cent grapefruit, but not necessarily. As your blog frequently reminds us, food choices are not always easy.

  3. Crafty Coin says:

    I’m so in agreement here! I go through this dilemma quite often at the grocery store, but in the end, at least for where I’m at now in life, the cheapest option wins. I blog about this a lot on my site and wonder if my natural way of eating is natural *enough* if I’m not buying organic/grass-fed, etc.

    • urbanfoodguy says:

      I know – it’s a real challenge and you always have to balance how you desire to eat well and be good to the planet with what you can afford! I hope is that as time passes we will see “better” food choices become more mainstream and more affordable. Fingers crossed!

  4. Pingback: The Top 10 Real Media Short Films | Urbanfoodguy

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