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Does Organic Food Really Taste Better?

Does Organic Food Really Taste Better?

I’ve said it dozens of times: Organic food tastes better/fresher/more flavorful than conventional foods. You’ve probably said it, too. But are we just imagining the improved taste of food that’s grown without pesticides and not genetically-modified? A new study suggests it might be all in our heads.

To test their theory, researchers from Sweden’s University of Gävle offered participants two different cups of coffee. One was said to be organic, while the other was not. Neither was actually organic. When asked which one tasted better, most of the subjects pointed to the supposedly organic version.

“An increasingly large number of products are marked with morally loaded labels such as fair-trade and organically produced — labels associated with social or environmental responsibility that speak to our conscience,” the researchers wrote. “We show that eco-labels not only promote a willingness to pay more for the product but they also appear to enhance the perceptual experience of the product’s taste. Who needs cream and sugar when there is eco-labelling? [sic]”

Now before you get too upset over these findings, it’s important to note that the Swedish study employed a minuscule sample size of just 44 participants. While surprising, it’s absolutely impossible to extrapolate conclusions about the global population from this tiny study. However, it does suggest that our perceptions of the benefits of organic food might be more tied up in appearances and labeling than we’d care to admit. It might also explain why some restaurants are lying about organic food on their menus.

The goods news is that most people don’t eat organic food just because they think it tastes better. We shell out the extra money for organically-produced goods because they’re free of pesticides and genetic modification. Also, organic farms tend to be smaller, more humane and more environmentally sustainable.

Much ado was made about a Stanford study that claimed organic foods were no more nutritious than their conventional counterparts (notice that I didn’t mention nutritional content above), but this has been hotly contested. It also has nothing to do with “healthiness.”

The Stanford Study “looked at over forty years of data comparing the two types of food, and concluded that organic foods are no more nutritious nor more likely to be contaminated,” wrote Care2′s Becky Striepe. “However, critics of that research say organic is still superior, as it excludes antibiotics and artificial growth hormones, high fructose corn syrup, artificial sweeteners and dyes, pesticides, and sewage sludge from being present.”

I’m pretty sure the level of antibiotics, genetically-modified ingredients and sewage sludge has a A LOT to do with whether I consider a food healthy or not. How about you?

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126 comments

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2:44AM PST on Feb 15, 2015

Thank you

4:19AM PDT on Aug 3, 2014

I eat as much certified organic food, as I can afford (at least those in the top 10, if available), to avoid more toxic pesticides, because latest studies have proven there are more antioxidants and less heavy metals, because, generally, better farming practices are utilized, including more nutrient-rich soil and because, in my experience, they usually taste better--sometimes considerably so.

Just last week I purchase a container of organic cherries at my local grocery store. They were selling both the organic and non-organic version. I tasted both. The "certified organic", although more expensive, tasted much better. The same goes for the grapes they were selling--both versions. I tasted both. The organic were much better. Now this is not always the case. Sometime organic don't taste better (esp. those not certified), but usually the taste is superior, and I have more faith in the quality.

"USDA certified organic" are better than just "organic" (which, generally, doesn't mean anything, since anyone can use that label). Although sometimes local uncertified organic produce can be just as good, but they just haven't paid the high cost to obtain the USDA certification.

2:55PM PST on Dec 26, 2013

Some do, Some don't. An absence of pesticides has nothing to do with soil quality.

10:34AM PST on Dec 16, 2013

Thank you

7:17AM PST on Dec 14, 2013

Dont care what some institutt says, i know my"own taste"................

6:57AM PST on Dec 14, 2013

What I want to know is what research is available that will give you an accurate picture of the chemical/pesticide content of all the various produce out there? (organic and non organic). I want to know if by spending extra I am indeed getting 'my monies worth' from it. Wouldn't it be great if instead of getting a break down of nutritional content; fats, carbohydrates etc, we got the chemical read out instead on the labels of our products. I want real hard evidence. Perhaps then it would influence the consumer to buy organic.

12:15AM PST on Dec 14, 2013

Thanks for the article...Everybody knows your own home grown fruit and veggies always taste the best.

3:17PM PST on Dec 13, 2013

Why are we eating for taste and using this as a valid comparison for foods grown with poisons, most are GM and harming the environment, and natural organic foods?

3:15PM PST on Dec 13, 2013

Call me crazy but I always felt food without poison on it tasted better ;-)

12:51PM PST on Dec 13, 2013

smakuje lepiej, jeśli jest naprawdę ekologiczna, nie tylko z nazwy

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