Organic food is a $29 billion industry, clearly Big Ag, but they have managed to convince believers that they are small farms that use no pesticides and are nutritionally, structurally and morally better for humanity.
But the glow has been fading. Framing organic food ethically now creates a backlash, according to surveys by Cornell University and the University of Michigan, which asked 371 test persons about their perceptions of food products with and without an organic label.
Even among consumers who expressed a high interest in environmental issues, the impact of ethical framing was dependent on personal values and the product. Just slapping an organic label on things doesn't work any more.
Organic marketers will claim that organic food tastes better for example, but the surveys showed the perception was otherwise; people believed organic food would be less tasty and yet more nutritional. And that perception of taste quality dropped as concern about organic food did. So much for the 'halo effect' marketers have enjoyed.
Citation: Jonathon P. Schuldt, Mary Hannahan, 'When good deeds leave a bad taste: Negative inferences from ethical food claims', Appetite, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2012.11.004
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