As incoming president of the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, I would have loved to have seen one of our food or agricultural economist members featured at the New York Time's Food for Tomorrow conference that focused on food policy earlier this week. That didn't happen, but at least they did have a prominent general economist on program. Paul Krugman's remarks are below.
He argues that if the externalities were properly priced organic would be no more expensive and "industrial" food would be more expensive. I'm not so sure about that and he doesn't cite any actual evidence to support the claim. But, here's the thing. Let's say we had a carbon tax or carbon market. Now we wouldn't need to answer that question or cajole people about eating organic or non-organic. I think that was basically his answer to the 1st question that was asked.
I was also happy to hear him say at some point, "I'm not an expert on any of this" because at a few points he seemed a bit out of his depth on the subject matter and was pandering to the audience. That being said, I'm at least happy a good economist was in the room contributing to the debate. His answer to the last question (at about the 22 minute mark) was pretty much right on target.