The Organic Label's "Health Halo"
FarmPlate May 04, 2010 News 0 comments
The organic label is everywhere--from produce and meat to grocery items. According to a new study, consumers often underestimate the calorie values of food with an organic label.
The Cornell University Food and Brand Lab set out to investigate the impact of the organic label on the consumer. The findings of the study were presented last week at the Experimental Biology Conference in Anaheim, California.
Cornell University Food and Brand Lab researchers gave a group of 54 college students Oreo cookies made with organic flour and sugar. Half of the group ate cookies that were labeled “organic” and the other half of the group was given unlabeled cookies.
When asked to estimate the calories they had consumed, the students who ate the cookies labeled “organic” thought they had eaten 40 percent fewer calories than the group given unlabeled cookies.
The cookies labeled “organic” were also rated by their test group as looking more appetizing and having a higher fiber content than the unlabeled cookies. Most of the students in this group also indicated on a survey that they often buy organic food and pay attention to nutrition labels.
Brian Wansink, the co-author of the study said in a press release: "An organic label gives a food a 'health halo.'" Wansink, the author of "Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More Than We Think," advises when estimating calories of unlabeled food, “Take your best guess at its calorie count. Then double it. You'll end up being more accurate, and you'll probably eat a lot less."
Calorie estimating aside, there are many other reasons a consumer might purchase organic foods. By definition, organic food is produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and organic meat, poultry, dairy and eggs come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones.
The Organic Trade Association announced last Thursday that organic food sales have increased in the last year, despite the poor economic climate.
Christie Bushway, executive director of the Organic Trade Association said, “While total U.S. food sales grew by only 1.6% in 2009, organic food sales grew by 5.1% . . . . These findings are indicative that even in tough times, consumers understand the benefits that organic products offer and will make other cuts before they give up products they value.”
More National News
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