Consumers May Overestimate Healthiness, Value Of Organic Foods


Consumers may overestimate healthiness, value of organic foodsA graduate student at Cornell University's Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management sought to find out how consumers are swayed by the 'organic' label, and her results revealed significant bias.

Jenny Wan-chen Lee tested her hypothesis on 144 participants. She asked them to test identical brands of organic potato chips, yogurt and cookies, labeling half of them as non-organic.

Participants rated the foods on taste and perceived calorie content, then reported how much they would be willing to pay for the organic varieties.

Her results overwhelmingly supported her theory on the "halo effect" of foods with organic labels. The subjects reported that the organic-labeled foods tasted better, had lower calories and were worth a higher price tag than the regular products.

Lee said that since she only tested a few products, additional studies may be necessary to draw any hard and fast conclusions.

While the United States Department of Agriculture's position is that no conclusive trials have proven that organic foods have superior nutritional benefits over conventionally-grown food, many experts disagree. Some studies suggest that organic fruits and vegetables do indeed have a more impressive nutritional profile compared to conventionally grown produce.

Personal Liberty

Special To Personal Liberty

You Sound Off! is written by our readers and appears the last Wednesday of each month. If you would like to submit an article or letter to the editor for consideration for You Sound Off!, send it to by the Friday before the last Wednesday of the month. To be considered, a submission should be 750 words or less and must include the writer's name, address and a telephone number. Only the writer's name will be published. Anonymous submissions will not be considered.

Join the Discussion

Comment Policy: We encourage an open discussion with a wide range of viewpoints, even extreme ones, but we will not tolerate racism, profanity or slanderous comments toward the author(s) or comment participants. Make your case passionately, but civilly. Please don't stoop to name calling. We use filters for spam protection. If your comment does not appear, it is likely because it violates the above policy or contains links or language typical of spam. We reserve the right to remove comments at our discretion.