If you are like me, you sometimes stand in front of the produce or meat section at the grocery store and compare the prices for organic and nonorganic items. I want to buy organic because I like my food to be chemical-free, but if the price difference is too great I waver. Is organic really worth the extra money? Well, yes.

Newly released results from an ongoing study conducted by the Rodale Institute now in its 30th year compared organic farming to conventional farming. The “farming systems trial” is the country’s longest running side-by-side trial. The results are impressive.

The latest findings show that compared to chemical-dependent “conventional” agriculture (what’s so conventional about using chemicals?), organic methods improve the quality of our food, improve soil and water health, create more jobs and are more profitable for farmers. Specifically, the study found that the yields in organic agriculture matched or beat conventional ag, used 45 percent less energy and 40 percent less greenhouse gases. 
“America’s farming techniques affect the health of our families, our communities and our planet,” said, the Rodale Institute’s executive director. “The farming system trial shows that organic farming is the healthiest and safest way to feed the world, provide much-need jobs, reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and protect precious natural resources.”

The 60-year-old Rodale Institute is a nonprofit organization dedicated to organic farming research and education. They pretty much invented the term “organic agriculture.” The group’s findings shouldn’t really be much of a surprise. Organic agriculture seeks to work with natural systems rather than beat them into submission with chemicals. Since we are part of the that same natural system, it only make sense that producing food in cooperation with the planet would make the most sense in the long term. 

Now, if only the federal government would stop giving taxpayer-funded subsidies to big conventional agriculture and instead provide incentives for organic growers doing the right thing, we would have a more level playing field, and the prices of organic food would come down. Then we wouldn’t have to stand in the grocery aisle and make difficult decisions about what to buy. 

In the meantime, isn’t it worth paying a little extra for organic? (For more on the farming systems trial go rodaleinstitute.org/fst.