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    Most Americans Regard An Organic Label As Just A Way To Charge More
    By News Staff | April 25th 2013 05:30 AM | 2 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    The segment of society that puts an anti-corporate mentality hand-in-hand with being anti-science is not just on the left; a whole lot of people are now cynical about the goals of the $29 billion organic food industry, especially after their well-publicized effort in California to label GMOs but exempt organic food, alcohol and restaurants. It was regarded as cynical opportunism, a way to get the government to grant their business an opportunity the free market did not.

    Surveys show people care more (or less) about the environment based on the economy; if that hierarchy of needs is not being met, people are not worried about who is flying off to global warming conferences, they care about jobs.

    Harris Interactive polled people about the environment and found concern was up from last year - their online survey used 2,276 U.S. adults and found that 38 percent were concerned about the environment this year, versus 31 percent in 2012.  So that is on the upswing again.  But almost 60% look at organic labels as just an excuse to to charge more, they don't see any benefit.

    "While Americans feel better about the economy, many are wary of the ‘greenwashing’ concept that gives companies a chance to cash in on consumers who want to help the planet but are confused by all the eco-friendly jargon,"  said Mike de Vere, President of the Harris Poll.

    Fact vs. Fiction

    The green movement once had unlimited goodwill in America; the belief was that its array of products were healthier, more nutritional and more environmentally friendly. Now, confused by dizzying exemptions and spurious claims, the innate skepticism of Americans is shining through. But there is still work to be done in separating fact from feel-good fallacies:

    48% still think washing dishes by hand is more environmentally friendly than using the dishwasher, despite evidence that a dishwasher uses only half the energy, one-sixth of the water, and less soap than hand-washing an identical set of dirty dishes.

    While 80% claim they would buy green products, only 30% believe they should cost more.

    The percentage of Americans believing organic claims are dropping but more than half of Americans (55%) still believe that organic foods are healthier than non-organic, despite studies showing organic produce and meat typically aren’t any better for you than conventional varieties.

    41% still think organic food tastes better and/or fresher than non-organic.

    Only 23% believe in the The Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” annual list of foods that are safer to buy organic, so that is a good sign, as is the fact that 60% of Americans use environmentally-friendly cleaning supplies. Only 9% look down on people who don't buy organic food, so that shows some tolerance.

    Men remain more skeptical about organic food than women. 63% of men consider organic food more of a marketing issue while 54% of women do.

    39% think about the carbon footprint of transporting fresh produce to a grocery store. Importing food from Chile or China has the same environmental cost, regardless if the food is organic or traditional, while the stress on land use is greater for organic food.

    See all the questions and answers in table format from Harris Interactive here.

    Comments

    Bonny Bonobo alias Brat
    Hank, are you still honestly telling us that you didn't write this 'News Staff article', that it was written by News Staff who independently write 'news from all over the world'? It looks like your style and opinions to me, like many other News Staff articles here at Science20.
    My latest forum article 'Australian Researchers Discover Potential Blue Green Algae Cause & Treatment of Motor Neuron Disease (MND)&(ALS)' Parkinsons's and Alzheimer's can be found at http://www.science20.com/forums/medicine
    Gerhard Adam
    Wow, where did these interpretations come from?
    While 80% claim they would buy green products, only 30% believe they should cost more.
    No, that's not what the survey said.  It said that 30% are willing to pay more, it said nothing about whether they should cost more.
    Only 23% believe in the The Environmental Working Group’s “dirty dozen” annual list of foods that are safer to buy organic,...
    Again, that's not what the survey said.  The question was whether people "know" what the dirty dozen is, to which 23% said that they did.
    The percentage of Americans believing organic claims are dropping but more than half of Americans (55%) still believe that organic foods are healthier than non-organic, despite studies showing organic produce and meat typically aren’t any better for you than conventional varieties.
    In this case, the problem is with the linked article.  The link indicates that there is no nutritional difference, but:
    But organic options may live up to their billing of lowering exposure to pesticide residue and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, researchers from Stanford University and the Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System found.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/09/03/us-organic-food-idUSBRE8820M920120903
    So depending on how you choose to interpret "healthy", there is no scientific evidence being presented that refutes that belief.

    Overall, the survey seems to suggest that the majority of people view the "organic" foods issue as a marketing issue and actually have quite reasonable views.  Of course, important questions were not asked in this survey, and that could also be important in interpreting the results.

    For example, it would have been helpful to ask, how people believe that food presented as "organic" actually is?  It would also have been helpful to distinguish between the concept of "organic" as encountered in a farmer's market versus a grocery.

    Mundus vult decipi