Mind Over Matter: Does Organic Taste Better?

By: Bel Marra Health | Healthy Eating | Wednesday, January 08, 2014 - 08:00 AM

200406713-001Organic food could be the answer to healthier eating. After all, it has strict standards — no genetically modified organisms (GMOs), no toxic pesticides or chemicals, nothing artificial, nothing can be irradiated or grown in sewage sludge — and the certification process is rigorous.

But does organic food actually taste better? Proponents of organic would say yes, without a doubt. But could you tell if what you’re eating is organic or not? Would you really know?

A recent study has put organic to the taste test, and the results reveal that when it comes to organic, it’s a case of mind over matter.

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Does Organic Food Taste Better?

Researchers at the University of Gavle in Sweden conducted a study to determine whether planet-friendly organic options taste better.

For the study, 44 participants were provided with two cups of coffee for a taste test. Although both cups contained the same brew and brand of coffee, participants were told that one of the cups of coffee was “eco-friendly” or “organic” and that cup was identified. In most cases, participants preferred the eco-friendly coffee and stated they would be willing to pay more for it.

In a different test, the participants were not told which cup was eco-friendly. They tasted the two cups and made their choice for preferred taste. After making their decision, half of the participants were told that their preferred coffee was eco-friendly; the other half was told that they preferred the coffee that was not eco-friendly. To note, even after the taste test, participants still indicated that they would be willing to pay more for the eco-friendly label, even if the coffee wasn’t the one they had chosen as their preferred cup of joe.

So what does this mean for organic health food? People are willing to pay more for a planet-friendly organic label, no matter if the taste and flavor isn’t tops. The researchers concluded that knowledge of a product’s eco-friendliness influences buying decisions, and people have a more positive perceptual experience of an eco-friendly product.

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Testing The Senses

Organoleptic testing, or trying to test the senses, can be difficult to measure. The Organic Center in Forester, RI, says this type of testing primarily is subjective and consumers will decide whether or not something is better for them simply by the label. This is referred to as the “halo-effect” which explains that individuals expect better tastes and quality merely if a product is labeled organic.

Other factors that can affect a taste test are how the product was handled post-harvest and how ripe the product is.

Currently, the strongest data reported to support organic health foods tasting better concerns apples. The Organic Center reports organic apples store better and are vibrant in color, crisper and hold their flavor longer compared to non-organic apples.

Why Choose Organic?

While it may depend on who you talk to, the Organic Consumer’s Association says there are several reasons why organic is better for healthy eating:

*Producers do not use toxic chemicals to grow the food
*Higher in nutrients than non-organic foods
*Support the environment and reduce pollution
*Lessen exposure of antibiotics

While taste is subjective, organic is considered a healthy food source and beneficial to our overall health.

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