I compared the price of organic and regular items at Whole Foods -- here's what I found

StrawberriesKathleen ElkinsWhole Foods was the perfect place to find organic options.

When I went into a Manhattan Whole Foods to look at the price difference between organic and non-organic products, I expected the organic options would be a lot more expensive.

I was pleasantly surprised.

By the way, I know that Whole Foods is pricey compared to some other grocery chains, but it’s also a national chain with organic options for most of its products, making it ideal for this comparison. Plus, it’s near my office.

I scoured the aisles and compared the prices of 20 popular grocery items in their organic and non-organic forms. Also, I calculated about how much it would cost me (or you) each year to go the organic route, assuming I bought each item once per week.

Here’s the breakdown:

Strawberries

Kathleen Elkins

I started in the produce section and was pleasantly surprised with the marginal price difference between organic and regular fruits and veggies:

Regular strawberries: $US3.99 per pound

Organic strawberries: $US4.49 per pound

Buying a pound of organic strawberries each week would cost you about $US26 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

Bananas

Kathleen Elkins

Regular bananas: $US0.79 per pound

Organic bananas: $US0.89 per pound

Buying two pounds of organic bananas each week would cost you about $US10 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

Peaches

Kathleen Elkins

Regular peaches: $US3.49 per pound

Organic peaches: $US3.99 per pound

Buying a pound of organic peaches each week would cost you about $US26 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

One thing I noticed in the produce section was general disorganization -- I found the organic peaches relatively quickly, but then struggled to find their regular counterpart, which ended up being all the way across the produce section. This held true for most of the fruits and veggies, and got me wondering how many times I bought the pricier organic simply because I couldn't find the regular option.

Cantaloupe

Kathleen Elkins

Regular cantaloupe: $US3.49 each

Organic cantaloupe: $US3.99 each

Just like with the strawberries and peaches, buying one organic cantaloupe each week would cost you just $US26 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

Tomatoes

Kathleen Elkins

Regular tomatoes: $US1.99 per pound

Organic tomatoes: $US2.99 per pound

Buying a pound of organic tomatoes each week would cost you about $US52 more than buying non-organic each year. While a little steeper of a difference than the other produce, $US52 over the course of a year is still not incredibly significant.

Avocados

Kathleen Elkins

Regular avocados: $US2.50 each

Organic avocados: $US2.79 each

Buying three organic avocados each week would cost you about $US45 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

Onions

Kathleen Elkins

Regular onions: $US1.49 per pound

Organic onions: $US1.99 per pound

Buying a pound of organic onions each week would cost you about $US26 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

After looping through the fruit and vegetables stands, my initial thoughts were that buying organic is worth it -- I'd only be spending $US2 to $US4 more each month if I bought organic produce (and I likely would not buying a full pound of many of these items).

Pork Bacon

Kathleen Elkins

After rounding out the produce section, I found myself in the meat and dairy part of Whole Foods, where I started to see the larger difference in price that I had anticipated:

Regular bacon: $US5.99 per 10-ounce package

Organic bacon: $US6.49 per 8-ounce package

Buying ten ounces (a typical size package) of organic bacon each week would cost you about $US110 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

While I will never need to buy ten ounces of bacon on a weekly basis, this was a more notable difference and got me thinking about whether or not organic meat is worth the cost.

Chicken

Kathleen Elkins

Regular chicken: $US10.16 for a 4.08-pound chicken ($US2.49 per pound)

Organic chicken: $US9.54 for a 3.19-pound chicken ($US2.99 per pound)

Buying four pounds of organic chicken each week would cost you about $US105 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

Milk

Kathleen Elkins

Regular milk: $US4.39 per gallon

Organic milk: $US6.99 per gallon

Buying a gallon of organic milk each week would cost you about $US135 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

Almond Milk

Kathleen Elkins

I came across my second pleasant surprise when I found the almond milk -- a staple of mine.

Regular almond milk: $US3.69 per carton

Organic almond milk: $US3.69 per carton

I go through a carton of almond milk each week, so it was nice to know that I can go the organic route and not pay more.

Eggs

Kathleen Elkins

Regular eggs: $US2.99 per dozen

Organic eggs: $US4.79 per dozen

Buying a dozen organic eggs each week would cost you about $US95 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

The egg section was particularly difficult to navigate because of the overwhelming choices: cage-free, organic, free-range, natural, or pastured. The cheapest organic dozen I could find were the $US4.79 'grade A fresh' eggs, but there were other organic options at $US5.69 a dozen, and even $US8.69 a dozen for 'pasture-raised' organic ones.

While $US95 isn't a huge difference over a year, if you opted for the pricey pasture-raised eggs, that would cost you nearly $US300 more than sticking with the conventional eggs.

Bread

Kathleen Elkins

Next stop: bread, snacks, and canned goods.

Regular bread: $US3.99 per bag ($US2.66 per pound)

Organic bread: $US3.99 per bag ($US2.90 per pound)

Buying two pounds of organic bread each week would cost you about $US25 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year. While these two bags look very similar in size, the organic loaf weighs slightly less.

Crackers

Kathleen Elkins

Regular crackers: $US3.79 per 8.5-ounce box ($US0.45 per ounce)

Organic crackers: $US3.69 per 6-ounce box ($US0.62 per ounce)

Buying an 8-ounce box of organic crackers each week would cost you about $US70 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

Soup

Kathleen Elkins

Regular soup: $US2.69 per box

Organic soup: $US2.69 per box

Might as well go organic, as you won't be dishing out extra cash.

Black Beans

Kathleen Elkins

Regular black beans: $US0.99 per can

Organic black beans: $US1.39 per can

Buying a can of organic black beans each week would cost you about $US20 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

Kathleen Elkins

My third pleasant surprise came in the form of maple syrup:

Regular maple syrup: $US8.99 per 12-ounce bottle

Organic maple syrup: $US8.79 per 12-ounce bottle

Buying organic maple syrup actually costs less!

Ketchup

Kathleen Elkins

I found another product where buying regular and organic would cost about the same (the unit prices came within a fraction of a cent of each other). It's difficult to make out the prices in the picture, but take my word for it.

Regular ketchup: $US2.79 per 32-ounce bottle

Organic ketchup: $US1.99 per 24-ounce bottle

Be diligent when looking at labels -- you never know what you may find.

Peanut Butter

Kathleen Elkins

Regular peanut butter: $US2.49 per jar

Organic peanut butter: $US4.99 per jar

Buying a jar of organic peanut butter each week would cost you about $US130 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year.

Almond Butter

Kathleen Elkins

The biggest surprise of the day came at the close of my shopping trip when I stumbled upon the exorbitantly priced almond butter:

Regular almond butter: $US19.99 per jar

Organic almond butter: $US26.99 per jar

Buying a jar of organic MaraNatha almond butter each week would cost you about $US365 more than buying non-organic over the course of a year. There are cheaper almond butter options out there, but finding anything under $US10 is a challenge -- I'll be sticking with peanut butter for the meantime.

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