Confirming Lee's health halo hypothesis, the subjects reported preferring almost all of the taste characteristics of the organically-labeled foods, even though they were actually identical to their conventionally-labeled counterparts. The foods labeled "organic" were also perceived to be significantly lower in calories and evoked a higher price tag. In addition, foods with the "organic" label were perceived as being lower in fat and higher in fiber. Overall, organically-labeled chips and cookies were considered to be more nutritious than their "non-organic" counterparts.
So, not only is there a health halo emanating from organic foods, but it's strong and consistent at least for cookies, chips, and yogurt. Although Lee is the first to acknowledge that her study was limited in the variety of foods tested, she is confident that this effect is real and has important implications as to what, and how much, people eat, especially those who preferentially seek out foods carrying an "organic" seal. Additional studies will be needed before we know whether these perceived taste and nutrition attributes result in greater consumption of organic versus conventional foods.
Until that time, remember not to judge a book (or a cookie) by its cover (or its organic label).
|Contact: Suzanne Price|
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology