organic vs. conventional foods – price determinants

To evaluate other determinants of prices then the issue of quality arises. It has been advanced that consumers are not only concerned with the environmental gains of organic foods but also their perceived value, quality, and satisfaction (Cunningham, 2001; Ness, Ness, Brennan, Oughton, Ritson & Ruto, 2010). Although consumers associate organic foods with better qualities such as nutritional value and taste (Ness et al, 2010); studies have shown that the nutritional content in organic foods may not be necessarily superior to conventional foods (Jiwan, Duane, O’Sullivan, O’ Brien & Aherne, 2009). Further it has been advanced that the quality of on-the-counter organic foods cannot be adequately substantiated on the basis of the mode of production but other aspects such as harvesting procedures, standards imposed in the industry and processing procedures (Harker, 2004). As such organic claims to their superior nutritive value may not be readily evident when samples are obtained from the retail market outlets (Harker, 2004).

A related concern to nutritious value is health. It is advanced that “organic production has an undeniable edge over conventional farming in terms of its beneficial impact on …human health (UNCTAD, 1996 as cited in Parrot & Marsden, 2002, p. 22). Such aspects have been informed on the reasoning that human exposure to diverse environmental contaminants could have adverse health outcomes especially with relation to cancers, allergens and toxins (Trewavas, 2004; Azadi & Ho, 2010). Many consumers have thus considered organic alternatives when making choices for the food to feed their children with the detoxification ability of children being lower than that of adults (Cunningham, 2001). Such considerations are however countered by the argument that when the chemicals are appropriately used they are unlikely to result into harmful outcomes to human health (Trewavas, 2004; “Is organic overrated?” 2009).


The issue as to which between organic and conventional foods bears better outcomes on human life has been debated along different perspectives. To evaluate the main themes that arises with the argument for and against any of these alternatives a literature review was conducted. The choice for reviewed literature was limited to journal articles, opinions in scientific dailies and other publications relevant to “organic farming practices.” From the literature reviewed identical perspectives advanced by opinions and findings were evaluated under the same theme with contrary findings and opinions also being evaluated. From these themes the points for and against organic farming vis-à-vis conventional farming were compared in tabular form presented in the results section. Go to part 4 here.

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