Reuters reports that a major study by scientists from the London School of Hygiene & Topical Medicine at the University of London shows organic foods have no nutritional benefit over conventional foods:
A systematic review of 162 scientific papers published in the scientific literature over the last 50 years, however, found there was no significant difference.
“A small number of differences in nutrient content were found to exist between organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs, but these are unlikely to be of any,” said Alan Dangour, one of the report’s authors.
“Our review indicates that there is currently no evidence to support the selection of organically over conventionally produced foods on the basis of nutritional superiority.”
Now we haven’t heard anything about possible contradictions to the study, flaws in the methodology, whatever, so the scientists who produced this report might be doing a whole lot of voodoo instead of science. (See, e.g., climate change ‘science’.) But let us for the time being and for our purposes assume that the study is accurate and true.
What is fascinating for me is the test this scenario provides for the idea of moral motivation in consumers. Explored in articles like this one about what motivates people in social networks, the idea is that modern consumers like to Do Good, at least when it isn’t inconvenient to do so. People apparently will buy “green” products because they like to Do Good, and it’s easy — as simple as paying money at the counter.
Now, the organic food movement predates all of this to some extent; Whole Foods (a flagship of the organic food movement) was founded in 1978 after all at the height of the Disco Era. The premise behind organic foods, I always thought, was that naturally grown foods is better for you. The reason that I, as a consumer, am willing to pay two or three times the price for a gallon of milk was that organic milk — free from hormones, pesticides, whatever — was healthier for me and my family. Over time, the organic food movement has blended with a variety of other socio-political movements like sustainability, humane kill, local foods (“locavore“), green, ecological concerns, and so on. But I still believe that most organic food consumers — like my parents for example — buy organic foods because they believe the organic foods are good for them, not for the environment or animals or whatever.
So… whither organic foods if this study is true? The test between 7DS Marketing and Moral Motivation Marketing is at hand.