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Posted: 3:00 p.m. Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Organic foods becoming more affordable?

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Organic foods are poised to get cheaper as more big companies get into the expanding market.

The organic movement started out as a real niche. In a lot of cities, organics used to only be sold at co-ops in counter culture neighborhood stores. But now organics have gone mainstream; even Wal-Mart sells them today!

The United States has now overtaken Europe as the largest organic food market in the world, according to The New York Times. The Agriculture Department reports a 125% growth in U.S. organic farm land over a 5-year period. The problem, however, remains the high cost of many organic foods.

Because of the growing market, big players in the food business want to do more high-volume organic farms, much to the dismay of organic purists. Hain Celestial is among the companies that have expressed interest. Hain owns Celestial Seasonings, Garden of Eatin' and Soy Dream, among other brands.

A move by big companies such as Hain and investors like Carl Icahn to get deeper into the organic market could lower the price of organic food substantially. Economies of scale will make organics more widely available to more people.

However, there's been a backlash against organic farming in some circles because organic farms are not nearly as efficient (yield per acre) as traditional farms. So in a world where affordable food is such an issue for so many people, there are those who believe the focus on organics is actually harmful to the overwhelming number of people's health and well being in the world.

It will be interesting to see how the market grows over the next few years. Maybe one day organics will be cheap enough for even a guy like me to put in my shopping cart!

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