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
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.
Most Americans Regard An Organic Label As Just A Way To Charge More
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- Environmental Working Group, Gary Hirshberg And Organic Activists- All The Influence Money Can Buy
- Not All Genetic Scientists Are Against GMO Labeling