Organic food buying guide

Choosing organic food is easier than ever. But is it worth the extra money?
 
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  • Updated:17 Jul 2007
 

02.Milk, meat and eggs

Milk

Typical price for 1L Glass of milk
Organic brands: $1.70 to $2.50
Leading brand: $1.80 to $2.30

Organic cows have free access to pasture and their feed isn’t treated with pesticides or herbicides. The animals aren’t routinely treated with other things like antibiotics.

Research from Europe suggests full-fat organic milk contains higher levels of omega-3 fats, as well as the fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamin E, compared with regular milk. However, the situation in Australia may not be the same: non-organic European cows don’t graze on pasture much (particularly in winter), while organic cows get free access to it. Organic or not, most Aussie cows spend most of their time on pasture. Australian research is needed.

In the US there are concerns about possible effects of growth hormones given to non-organic cows to increase milk production. These hormones aren’t permitted in Australia at all, so it’s not an issue here.

Butter

Typical price for 250g Butter
Organic brands: $3.50
Leading brand: $1.80

Organic butter is made from organic milk, so the comments about milk (see above) also apply.

Chicken

Typical price for a whole 1 kg chicken

Organic: $10 to $12A chicken
Standard: $4.50 to $6.50

Typical price for 1 kg breast fillets

Organic: $28 to $33
Standard: $12.50 to $15

Certified organic chicken is typically twice the price of regular chicken.

For this, the chickens are free-range: they have access to the outside world, and get much more space. Standard broiler chickens are kept in sheds, which are often condemned as being crowded. They’re fed a minimum of 95% organic feed, graze on pastures that aren’t treated with pesticides or herbicides, and their feed isn’t genetically modified. Plus there’s no use of antibiotics. Growth hormones aren’t used in any chickens in Australia.

Eggs

Typical price for one dozen 55–60g eggs Eggs in tray
Organic: $8 to $9
Leading brand (cage): $4 to $4.20
Leading brand (free-range): $5.50 to $7.50

Organic eggs are free-range, which means no cages, but they’re even more expensive than ordinary free-range chooks.

Beef

Typical price for 1 kg scotch fillet Steak in fry pan
Organic: $30.50 to $35
Standard: $20 to $27

Typical price for 1 kg mince

Organic: $14 to $15
Standard: $10 to $12

Organic beef, like much of the beef cattle in Australia, is free-range rather than from a feed lot. However, for organic beef, the pasture and any other feed used must be organic and not grown with pesticides or herbicides.

Unlike most regular Australian beef, organic cattle can’t be treated with growth-promoting hormones. The use of growth hormones in meat production is a matter of contention and international debate. The Australian government’s position is that they’re unlikely to be a health risk when properly used. The European Union disagrees and has banned growth hormones. There’s a sophisticated control system in Australia to ensure no growth hormones are used in beef exported to Europe.

All our prices were collected in 20 Sydney supermarkets in May 2007. They may change depending on the season.

Images: Paul Santelmann

 

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