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Consumers May Overestimate Healthiness, Value Of Organic Foods

April 14, 2011 by  

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.

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  • karolyn

    I try to buy organic whenever I can afford it because I do not want to consumer more junk into my body than I already do just by breathing. Big Agra uses too many chemicals to grow its foods and also depletes the soil of nutrients, which have to be artificually replaced. Of course, then there are the pesticides and GMO seeds. Organically grown foods are grown in more naturally fertile soil.

  • Polski

    This is just another effort to help big business. If organic foods are looked upon as more expensive without reason, then Monsanto can keep on ruining food deliberately with their GMO, Genetically Molested Organisms, program.

  • NJmom77

    This article misses the point of organic food production practices. What’s important is what’s NOT in or on the food, and what heavy use of pesticides and herbicides does to the environment.

  • Richard

    One of the advantages of eating organic is that you know it is NOT GMO food, which Europeans can be warned about on the labels of their boxes but which Americans can not. Recently it has been discovered that genetically engineered corn and soy for hogs and cows have been causing spontaneous abortions in them, but it’s OK for humans because the Monsanto controlled FDA says so. They also have some of their people at the USDA from what I have read. By the way some 93% of soy and 86% of corn and cotton are all GMO in the United States and most products contain soybean oil, cotton seed oil or corm meal and corn oil. The really rotten part, from my way of thinking, is that some of the companies that make our processed foods with GMO crap in it also make quality products from natural grains for other countries that don’t allow such things to be sold to their citizens. Americans, of course, will eat anything and always look for the cheapest. Might be why we have slipped from 4th place to nearly 50th in longevity in just a little over 50 years. While it’s true that some organic foods may not be worth while that cannot be said for all of them. Just look for a list of the top ten polluted foods and avoid them unless organic or nearly so and you will be better off for it.

    • Carol

      Right on! I had to drink soy milk my first 7 years. I was allergic to cows milk. YUCK. It was the most horrible tasting stuff. As an adult, I avoid soy. It has an enzyme that combines with calcium to produce crystals. Kidney Stones. Haven’t had any since I quit using soy. Organic cannot exist. There has been so much artificial compounds put into our soil that it would have to be sterilized. Then it wouldn’t produce anything of nutritional value. Also, since plants and animals are all organic anyway, all food is organic

  • Marcia Kirschbaum

    Based on how some cookies and chips taste??? Really??? News Flash: even Organic, they’re still sugar and fat filled junk food. This article isn’t worth the time it took to write it – or read it. Thank God it was short. Unfortunately, there will be some bimbo’s out there that only read the misleading headline and conclude that they can go back to their sugar addiction. Sometimes this site is incredibly irresponsible it what it posts. Where’s the big surprise that junk food tastes good? How do you think we god our obesity problem and health crisis? When did how food tastes start having anything to do with nutritional content? Lame.

    • libertytrain

      The article was short and in it it said:
      “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.”

      Now I read that sentence to say the organic labeled foods tasted better. What did you read?

      • Marcia Kirschbaum

        Yeah, you’re right – guess I couldn’t get past the misleading headline.

        • libertytrain

          While I can see your point, it actually fits in with the fact that all the products she tested were organic – the consumer didn’t know that and picked only those they thought were organic. I thought that was interesting in itself:
          “She asked them to test identical brands of organic potato chips, yogurt and cookies, labeling half of them as non-organic.”

  • http://libertydigest ira l.

    My theory: The mind and what we think are super powerful regarding the actions we take. Almost everyone I know that goes to McDonalds is never sick. They eat a BigMac for the enjoyment and taste. Therefore their conciousness is focused on having a good time/meal. Most people I know that eat only health food seem to always be sick or ailing from something or other. They focus on living as long as possible and preventing disease/sickness instead of the pleasantness of the experience. I’m just sayin’. In either case, how good we feel or how long we last is ultimately in the hands of our Creator. Sorry if I offended you Mr. Maher.

  • http://FarTooMuch.Info Russ Lemon

    If I were to make two batches of cookies, one batch sweetened with lead, you would probably prefer the taste of the batch with lead because it would taste sweeter. But the real problem in foods these days are the poisons in them that you cannot taste. You cannot taste the Bt-toxin and glyphosate that is in most prepared foods, yet these poisons do great harm to our bodies. They almost killed me. That was before I knew about GMOs. By avoiding GMOs and other toxic foods, I recovered. My dad recovered. Unfortunately, it was too late to save my son who died. I do not eat any corn or corn product not labeled organic or non-GMO. Same with soy, cotton-seed, sugar-beet & alfalfa. I do not eat canola. You really need to do your research and understand food. I certainly would not drink any hemlock tea, even if it was 100% organic. Aspartame and MSG are also toxic poisons that taste good, but must be avoided.

  • STEVEN4x4

    Dear Organic Lovers,

    To understand Organic foods, I would say one has to understand first about the structure of the Atom, about the proton (+) and the electron (-) which also relate to the ancient Yin and Yang theory of balance. Also one must understand about Acid (which is proton) and Alkaline (which is electron). This may be all physic and technical, but it really is if you care to know further. But otherwise you will not know why organic foods is better and healthier than normal foods. Ask me why if you are really keen to know, otherwise I will be wasting my time explaining.

    • libertytrain

      I’d like to know your thoughts on this.

    • Mohan Arun

      Really? I thought the label ‘organic’ was supposed to mean that they produced it without using any artificial fertilizers.

  • Laird

    what is organic about potato chips? cookies?


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