Bryan Caplan  

Market Failure: The Case of Organic Food

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Right-leaning people typically believe that (a) markets work, and (b) organic food is a scam.  I definitely fit the profile.  As a result, my every trip to the grocery store inspires cognitive dissonance.  Organic food isn't merely on the shelves; it's growing by leaps and bounds.  The organic industry itself claims that sales grew from $1B in 1990 to $27B in 2010, with 7.7% sales growth in 2010.  What on earth is going on?  How can my cognitive dissonance be resolved?

The ideologically easiest escape route is to drop (b).  Maybe the health benefits of organic food really do justify a 30-50% price premium.  But nothing high on Google Scholar inspires confidence in this position.  Major literature reviews in 2009, 2003, and 2002 report that (a) there's little solid evidence about the health benefits of organics, and (b) existing evidence reveals little health benefit of organics. 

This is hardly surprising given the emotional, credulous cognitive style of organic consumers.  Can you imagine the typical "all-natural" fan changing his mind in response to peer-reviewed nutritional research?  That's just not how they roll.

The second-easiest escape from cognitive dissonance is to water down the meaning of (a).  Couldn't you just say "Markets work"="Markets give consumers what they want," then add "Lots of consumers want organic food"?  Sure, but this escape route overlooks a key distinction.  Perhaps there are some consumers who simply want organic food, come hell or high water.*  But many consumers of organic food want not organic food per se, but healthier food.  As far as scientists can tell, the latter consumers aren't getting the extra health they're paying for.

At this point, you could water down the meaning of (a) even further: "Markets work="Markets give consumers what they want given their beliefs."  This story seems OK as far as it goes.  But doesn't it damn markets with faint praise?  In a world of fools, markets produce a great deal of folly.  Sounds a lot like my critique of democracy, no?

Nevertheless, one big difference between markets and democracy remains.  In democracy, if the median voter is a fool, everyone has to live under foolish policies.  The great redeeming feature of markets is that anyone who figures out that, say, organic food is a waste of money can immediately stop wasting his money.  This is far from a perfect system.  But democracy, unlike markets, adds injury to insult.  In the market, the rationalist suffers fools.  In democracy, the rationalist doesn't just suffer fools.  He obeys them.  Or else.

* As Saul Kripke might put it, these consumers treat "organic food" as a rigid designator.



COMMENTS (55 to date)
Fabio Rojas writes:

Bryan, you omitted one simple and obvious explanation. Organic food as charitable donation. In other words, the higher price is a support for people that we like. If I like people who make candles by hand, then I'd be willing to pay $.50 more for a candle made by people rather than a big evil candle factory.

It's not different than buying girl scout cookies. Are girl scout cookies cheaper or tastier than cookies from Kroger's (my local chain supermarket)? No. I'd probably say that girl scout cookies are worse in many cases. But I still buy them because I approve of the girl scouts organization. You don't need to be a wacky Whole Foods fanatic to engage in this this sort of charitable behavior.

Fabio Rojas writes:

Also, some of what you cite is up for debate. The size of the organic market is a matter of dispute. A lot of big corporate food producers slap the label on the word "organic" even if it is not produced to the standards that would be acceptable to the Whole Foods crowd. So maybe the mystery is not as deep as it appears.

Fabio Rojas writes:

My original comment was lost:

There's a simple and obvious explanation. People treat organic food like a charitable donation. Many folks simply are willing to pay more to support people they like. If I like "local farmers" who don't use pesticides, I might be willing pay a few $ more, even if it tastes the same.

It's like the girl scouts. Would I stop buying if a blind taste test showed that girl scout cookies tasted worse than the ones from the supermarket? No, I'd keep buying because I like kids.

PS. Health is just one reason people buy organic, so it's weird to focus on health benefits. There are also environmental arguments, charitable arguments, and aesthetics.

Pfft writes:

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Jeff writes:

It seems to me that the market is working as expected. Organic foods allow supermarkets to price discriminate and no party in the supply chain has any incentive to inform the consumer. Obviously, the information asymmetry hurts the consumer, but I suspect a majority of consumers would reconsider their purchasing habits if they did read those peer reviewed studies.

J Storrs Hall writes:

"When the Soil Association, a major organic accreditation body in the UK, asked consumers why they buy organic food, 95% of them said their top reason was to avoid pesticides."

see http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/science-sushi/2011/07/18/mythbusting-101-organic-farming-conventional-agriculture/

And then this: "Why the government isn’t keeping watch on organic pesticide and fungicide use is a damn good question, especially considering that many organic pesticides that are also used by conventional farmers are used more intensively than synthetic ones due to their lower levels of effectiveness. According to the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, the top two organic fungicides, copper and sulfur, were used at a rate of 4 and 34 pounds per acre in 1971 [1]. In contrast, the synthetic fungicides only required a rate of 1.6 lbs per acre, less than half the amount of the organic alternatives."

Copper and sulfur ?!?!?!?!?

Read the whole thing. I'm virtually certain that the main reason people buy "organic" is that they really don't understand what they're buying.

PrometheeFeu writes:

"This is hardly surprising given the emotional, credulous cognitive style of organic consumers. Can you imagine the typical "all-natural" fan changing his mind in response to peer-reviewed nutritional research? That's just not how they roll."

Do you have evidence for that or is that your bias shining through? What about non-organic consumers? Do they generally respond to peer-reviewed nutritional research?

There are many reasons to buy organic foods which have very little to do with nutritional concerns:

-Food producers usually don't disclose what they use in the production processes. Sometimes they use relatively new products (fertilizers or pesticides for instance) whose long-term health effects are unknown. Some people are willing to take the risk that those health-effects will be negative in exchange for lower prices. Some others are willing to forgo some innovations in exchange for lower risk.

-Consuming organic food is a signal in many social circles. It shows that you are willing to spend the extra money to belong to that social circle.

-Buying from farmer's markets can be really nice. I'm on a first-name basis with a number of people from whom I purchase my food. It's quite pleasant. Not to mention that the relationship I build with them means our interests are more closely aligned than just by market processes.

As for the peer-reviewed articles, nutritional "science" is still in its infancy. I don't doubt their ability to take food samples and measure the presence of specific substances. But there is a big difference between knowing what goes in the mouth and knowing what the health outcomes are. Between the two is a system so complex and with so many lags that it makes the macro-economy look like a high-school physics problem.

Saturos writes:

And yet, medical research does manage to prove stuff... (More than we can often say about macro.)

SheetWise writes:

I don't suppose that designer labels make the jeans better or the handbags more functional -- but people pay the premiums. Designer food is nothing new, just watch a labeling machine in a cannery. I think the organic craze is more akin to buying line-caught fish -- it tastes the same, but it makes you feel better.

PrometheeFeu writes:

@Saturos:

And nutritional science does not at all work like medical science. There is a big difference between evaluating the effects relatively short term effects of a drug that has a couple of compounds in double-blind trials and on the other hand, evaluating the long term health effects of consuming products that fall in a vague category called "organic".

But even then, medical science produces plenty of terrible research. Take the vaccine-autism link paper. Sure, it was fraud, but set that aside for a moment. It was a case study of some 12 patients. Where I come from we call that an anecdote and it was published in the top paper in the field. I recently had some minor medical problems and sought peer-reviewed research regarding various options the doctor presented to me. The vast majority had equally ridiculously small sample sizes or samples that were horribly biased along some axis. Medical practices have advanced significantly in the past 100 years, but a lot of the science is still junk.

Dan Hill writes:

Right-minded people typically believe that (a) markets work, and (b) smoking kills.

Yet people continue to buy cigarettes and therefore we should worry that markets don't work? What the?

Let's not get into people wanting stuff they shouldn't want if they are rational, moral, patriotic, insert whatever reason you have for telling other people what they should want...that's a slippery slope that leads to a place that ain't called liberty.

Giedrius writes:

In the world with high food quality uncertainty (especially in less developed countries), 'Organic' label may serve as a signal of more uniform (if not higher) quality in terms of ingredients, processing processes, etc.. It is well known to me that 'Organic' foods may have higher pesticide content (even if it is from "natural") sources, but I still prefer to buy products with 'Organically' label to lower information collection and search costs (which would basically require buying and trying out different samples of the product class...).

stuhlmann writes:

I agree with the others, who have pointed out that many people buy organic foods primarily because they are worried about the pesticides and other chemicals used in modern agriculture, to include hormones and antibiotics in meat. I think that this also has to do with the normal human tendency to distrust strangers. We have little knowledge of who produces our food. Are they putting harmful chemicals in our food in order to reduce production costs and increase profit margins? We don't know, nor do we know what harm these chemical may cause us. We fear the unknown. Buying organic is a way of reducing that fear, if not the actual risks themselves.

botogol writes:

I don't think organic is a scam, exactly, as i think at its heart it's perpetrated by the well-meaning, rather than the cynical.

To explain the appeal of organic, I think we need to comapre with the appeal of religion, or the appeal of anti-vaccine movement: it's more like a spiritual phenomenon than an economic, scientific or rationalist one.

Vadim writes:

Criticizing people's preferences is something economics should not do.

Brandon Berg writes:

Right. The bottom line is that utopia is not an option. The idea that markets produce perfect outcomes is a strawman. They just produce better outcomes than real-world government interventions (not hypothetical government interventions designed by gods and executed by angels) tend to.

ChrisA writes:

Isn't "Organic" just a quasi brand, like Coke or Heinz?

Advertising and development of brands has always been one of the arguments against free markets by marxists, socialists and other statists, it being seen as wasteful and also duplicitious, in other words people are misled by advertising by duplicous organisations into buying expensive things they don't need (i.e. the free market is not really free). The standard response to this is that advertising is actually a way of providing information by sellers to potential buyers, so as to make the competitive market work.

For instance many people will only buy Heinz baked beans, even though there may be the supermarket's own brand sitting there next to the Heinz ones at lower prices. In this case people use the advertising to avoid minor issues. People vary in their ability to critically analyse what they are told, and not everyone wants to take the time and energy to determine the best trade off between cost and efficiency especially for purchase that are not significant in their overall budget.

Heinz invested heavily in marketing their brand, and people know that Heinz rationally will want to preserve that investment, so for a purchaser the risk in buying them is small compared with the no-brand alternative. For a small purchase why take any risk at all? Especially if you are buying for others, such as your family. An organic label gives the same assurance.

It's funny in this example to see the usual roles reversed with many statists supporting the right to buy and "advertise" the possible benefits of Organic food (despite the lack of scientific proof), versus the free marketers who argue that the buyers are being misled. Oh well, as someone more intelligent than me has said, politics is all about group identification.

Bryan, you aren't considering all the benefits of organic foods. The health benefits are very uncertain at best, but (at least in the case of some meats) organic food often tastes better. Try eating an organic grass-fed burger and compare that to what you can get at McDonalds. A 30-50% premium doesn't seem like such a bad deal.

Greg G writes:

Yes it's true. We each get to leave the supermarket with the foods of our own personal choice.

But we don't each get to have our own personal president after an election.

Among the many injustices in this world, this does not strike me as one of the worst or most interesting.

Joe Cushing writes:

You said your studies can't find evidence. Your studies haven't ruled out the possibility of health benefits though. People have to make a decision in an environment that lacks information. Others mentioned the pesticide and hormone thing. I also remember eating turkeys that tasted better from a poultry farm instead of the store. One time I cooked a turkey from the store and it was nasty like they put too much of that preservative chemical in it. I cant' remember what the chemical is but it is in all the major grocery store turkeys. Also, for some reason, 90% of chicken in pumped full of salt water. It says so right on the label. It's too salty for my taste.

I agree with Dan Hill.

I generally don't buy organic veggies but I do try to avoid the salted chicken and I have avoided turkey all together since the nasty tasting one that didn't even taste like meat. I knew a girl who was freaked out about hormones in eggs. She used to pay double for her eggs and she was on food stamps at the time. I knew another girl who used to buy happy cow milk for about double the price. There was a story on the carton about how happy the cows were.

Finally, environmentalists buy organic because they believe it is better for the environment. I don't know if they are right on this.


Chris Stucchio writes:

Bryan, Jayson is right. Some organic food does taste better, and usually not because it's organic.

For example, go taste different organic milk brands. Many have more milkfat in them. I'm guessing this is permissible because the USDA has error ranges in their measurements (e.g., 1.6-2.4% counts as 2%), and the organic brands edge themselves up to the very top. The higher price point also makes things like lower temperature pasteurization (more expensive) more economical.

While I'm pretty sure organic is nonsense, the high price point allows organic producers to focus more on quality.

dha writes:

Organic food isn't about health benefits. It's more about "sustainability", and it does indeed make less intensive use of land and less use of industrial products. It thereby is a social marker that you are 1. wealthy to afford it, 2. intelligent to know about, and 3. caring to pay the premium for it. These are three things that most people would like to think of themselves and would like others to associate with them.

clay writes:

Why do shoppers pay more for name brands over generic brands with ugly packaging when everyone knows they are often the same product?

It's the same with organic food: stores can get higher margins out of the shoppers with more money and those who aren't paying attention to price labels and still keep the shoppers that are price sensitive.

Also, 10% of the time, I'll buy organic produce because I think it tastes better or looks fresher.

Linn Stanton writes:

I am a rather strict organic buyer, because one of my daughters is hypersensative to organophosphates (acetylcholinesterase levels in children are much more variable than in adults.) In her case, I can testify that she responds to lower levels of pesticide residue than the USDA considers safe.

If USDA pesticide regulations were more science based there might not be such a problem, but many of the worst chemicals were grandfathered when the USDA/FDA regulations started and have never gone through any approval process. Anyone who thinks that government regulations guarantee safety should look at the differences in regulation between advanced countries, such as US/UK.

A question for you: why does public choice economics not apply to food regulation?

Lizzie writes:

Once Big-agra takes over organic farming and competely dictates exactly how the label "organic" is defined, this argument will become irrelevant. And this WILL happen. It happens to everything else. There is no reason to assume organic farming will be any different.

I used to laugh at people who freaked out over GMO seeds, until Monsanto started modifying seeds to make them glyphosate tolerant. It was one thing to inject a fish gene into a tomato. It was another to create a crop that loves glyphosate. At that point, they had my attention. I will not buy anything I even suspect was grown from Roundup Ready seed.

I no longer buy produce from the conventional grocer. (For the person who commented on the use of copper by organic farmers: most small-scale organic farmers have come to shun the use of copper as a fungicide. Of course, Big-Agra producers who have entered the organic market might be a different story.) I also buy meat locally from a producer I know is not using roundup-ready seed crops to feed his animals.

I won't play Monsanto's guinea pig. I am not that desperate for food.

Another Jeff writes:

Bryan,

I think your focus is a bit too narrow here, assuming that people buy organic foods only for (perceived) personal health benefits. I believe a big reason people have for buying organic is they think it's better for the environment. Similar to what dha said above, many people seem to think that the use of fewer pesticides/herbicides helps prevent other animals from being poisoned when those chemicals eventually wash into streams, rivers, lakes, etc.

Despite this, I think your general point here holds, because from what I've read, the purported environmental benefits aren't all they're cracked up to be, either, because it turns out that if you don't use pesticides/herbicides, your farm will be substantially less productive, and you'll have to plant more acres of crops to acheive the same level of output as a non-organic farm.

Also, in the case of livestock, I think people tend to believe that organic farming is nicer and gentler for the animals involved. There is the perception that if you aren't pumping the cows/pigs/whatever full of antibiotics, you can't keep them packed in dirty, crowded, unsanitary feedlots because half of them will get sick and die, so organic farming is synonymous in people's minds with cleaner, more spacious conditions for the animals involved. In practice, I have no idea how true this is or not, but it sounds more plausible than the other purported benefits of organic farming.

Basically, I think dha is on the money with the comment about organic food purchases signalling a sort of awareness and caring to others.

stephen writes:

is conspicuous consumption considered the product of market failure?

Yancey Ward writes:

To even play at terming it a "market failure", is to give interventionists too much leeway.

joeftansey writes:

Health/nutrition is a religion for most people. I have had exactly zero success citing randomized controlled studies on everything from skipping breakfast to alcohol consumption. Having a lean and hard physique gives me no credibility either.

This new-age religion has "clean" and "dirty" foods, daily rituals, and symbol worship. But just like most religions, they do whatever they want in private but bring yoghurt and carrots to work. The mental gymnastics of dietary habit are well documented.

That said, I do usually try to buy organic because I am very risk averse. Consider aspartame - there is a small amount of epidemiological evidence that it can cause Alzheimer's. There is a ~10% chance that this is actually true, but it causes me to avoid aspartame.

But the same can be said for many "natural" ingredients. There are hundreds of studies done on aspartame and sucralose, but almost none done on stevia. The reflex of "health nuts" is to equate "natural" with "safe". But I abstain from stevia because the long term studies are poor and sparse.

Simply, my preference is to avoid foods with long lists of ingredients. I don't really pay attention to the cost of food. If the price of (what I consider) viable food choices doubled, I wouldn't change my consumption.

I am lower-middle class.

I agree with Yancey Ward.

Markets never "work," and they never "fail." Economists hurt themselves and damage the reputation of their profession when they make such value judgments.

That's not to say economists shouldn't make recommendations based on policy goals. ("If Policy Goal A, then we should implement Policy Program B, based on what we know about how people react to incentives.) But if I were an economist, I don't see how I'd make the argument that the market "failed" just because other people are doing what I wouldn't do. That's not a case of market "failure," that's just a case of other people having a value set and knowledge set different from mine.

Justin writes:

The utter variety of reasons for buying organic in the responses, true or not, more than explains the increased supply at your local super market. I had a friend whom I was scoffed at for purchasing organic bananas for twice the price of comparable bananas. He said, "I like them better". Maybe the market delivered a more nutritious banana (I doubt it). Maybe it produced a status symbol or a placebo, who knows, but it sure wasn't any failure - He liked them better!

bryan willman writes:

i am a whole foods and sometimes "organic" shopper for a very odd reason - or maybe not so odd..

the pre packaged salad, nice whole chicken legs, and a few other things i really like and find very convient happen to be organic only, at least in the pool of convient grocery stores where i live.

and markets often fail due to the tragedy of the mass market - if what 99% of consumers want is really gross canned peas, then there likely will not be any fresh ones.

MamaLiberty writes:

The usual "organic" method is well suited to the individual gardener who has both the time and property to practice it. The yields are generally poorer, but there is little pressure to produce a great deal when the grocery store is close by.

Contrast that with the great famines that have plagued the past (and may again). The Highland potato famine is but one small example. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highland_Potato_Famine

They had absolutely nothing with which to fight the virus... and a great many people died as a result. I suspect they would not have objected to a bit of chemical in their diets.

sailorman writes:

You're defining the benefits entirely wrong: those studies are valid, but not actually relevant to this issue.

Organic food is not (except in the mind of some raw-food zealots) more nutritious. A potato contains the same amount of calories and vitamins, roughly speaking, as any other organic or non-organic potato: differences accrue from farming techniques, not the derivation of the fertilizer.

What organic food DOES provide is a means of avoiding some of the chemical pesticides which are known to be harmful, and/or are feared to be harmful.

One can logically (and correctly) believe that pesticides and chemical treatments provide, or could provide, non-zero toxicity over the course of a lifetime of consumption. Eating organic food is designed to reduce the toxicity of certain additives or pesticides, not to enhance the underlying nutritive value of the food. Organic food buyers are also trying to protect against the unknowns: we occasionally realize something is toxic after it's already in use.

Daniel writes:

It's all about behavioral biases and social norms.

quadrupole writes:

I eat organic for taste.

I'm a raw foodist, and so I've developed a very discerning taste for fruits and vegetables. Often (not always) the conventional fruits or vegetable simply taste awful.

Ken B writes:

There was once a raging market for indulgences too.

Tom West writes:

Can you imagine the typical "all-natural" fan changing his mind in response to peer-reviewed nutritional research? That's just not how they roll.

Can you imagine the typical right-winger changing his mind in response to peer-reviewed climate research? That's just not how they roll.

[My apologies to the many right-winger I've slighted.]

Anyway, the point is that at this point in time, science is meant to support the platform, not the other way around. If the science gives a result you don't like, you deny the science. Let's not fool ourselves by pretending that science dictates policy (in any substantive way) for either right or left.

Jody writes:

Markets satisfy desires.

Whether those desires are wise is another matter altogether.

sieben writes:

@Tom West,

Peer reviewed ~= controlled study.

Lots of garbage is "peer reviewed".

J Storrs Hall writes:

http://www.inquisitr.com/239495/buying-organic-makes-you-a-jerk-study-says/

Pretty good evidence that buying organic is a signaling behavior and a conscience sink:

"People who buy organic food tend to act like jerks, according to a study published on May 15th in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science.

MSNBC states that Renate Raymond, a 40-year-old arts administrator in Seattle told them:

“I stopped at a market to get a fruit platter for a movie night with friends but I couldn’t find one so I asked the produce guy. And he was like, ‘If you want fruit platters, go to Safeway. We’re organic.’ I finally bought a small cake and some strawberries and then at the check stand, the guy was like ‘You didn’t bring your own bag? I need to charge you if you didn’t bring your own bag.’ It was like a ‘Portlandia skit.’ They were so snotty and arrogant.”

The study’s lead author, Kendall Eskine, is an assistant professor of the department of psychological sciences at Loyola University in New Orleans. According to the study, Eskine stated:

“There’s a line of research showing that when people can pat themselves on the back for their moral behavior, they can become self-righteous.”
...
"

Floccina writes:

Another great post by Bryan.
I like to tell my friends who eat organic that all beans have cyanide in them. They are generally surprised. Some are incredulous to which I say "how do you think that it is that relatively big caloric dense seeds are not all eaten by bugs?" Answer The naturally occurring pesticide, cyanide.

http://www.futurity.org/science-technology/a-dash-of-cyanide-with-those-beans/

John David Galt writes:

It would be nice if we could track how the "organic food meme" has changed over time.

When the movement began in the 1970s, the rationale was that America's (and the rich world's) regular food distribution system was not to be trusted with our safety, because food processors and supermarket chains were perfectly willing to add poisons to our food to save a few cents per serving (and anything that had a chemical name in an ingredients list was assumed to be poisonous, while anything that didn't was assumed "natural" and therefore perfectly safe).

The really appalling thing about the whole situation is that reputable scientific authorities who blew holes in these assumptions (such as Dr. Bruce Ames) not only were branded part of the conspiracy by its believers, but were universally ignored by the news media.

Today, though, the conspiracy theory seems to have disappeared. Otherwise stores like Safeway and Raley's would not be able to label products "organic" today and sell them, since those are the very people the believers labeled bad guys.

So with the rationale gone, why is anyone still paying extra to buy "organic" food? It makes even less sense than it originally did.

A writes:

At the supermarket, buying the organic stuff is typicaly a more upmarket experience. Wooden baskets, beautiful cornucopian displays, old-timey, aww-shucks horse-cart themes. As others have said, organic is just the branding for that experience. You probably don't find the idea too foreign yourself: I bet you could buy most of what you want at Gerry's Ghetto Grocery, but you just wouldn't feel comfortable there, would you? Others agree, and one way to guarantee that you won't run into distasteful people is to shop in places that distasteful people can't afford!

Plus a lot of folks dawdle like the dickens when shopping for veggies. It's the new place to see and be seen. Just as bars pay their real estate costs with high-priced drinks, the lekking grounds in grocery stores (usually the largest part of the store by area) have to be paid for with high-priced produce.

Daublin writes:

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bryan willman writes:

a friend who worked in whole foods as a cashier reported that a fair number of the customers were weird jerks. in this particular store attire suggested the very well off (dressed very informally) didn't care, but the mid-brow (in the suits) got stressed out.

so it seems likely that people straining to buy "organic", or wearing it as a "badge of religion" could well feel free to be jerks.

and of course, gasoline is an organic substance...
(it both occurred in nature before all consumed and is a carbon compound...)

"organic" in the chemical sense does NOT always mean "wholesome"

But of course, one STILL sees reports of people totally freaked out because somebody labelled the water foutain "WARNING DIHYDROGEN OXIDE!" A waterfoutain next to a vending machine selling a product branded H2O.

The fact that such a prank never stops affecting some people is a sign of the problem.

Daniel Shapiro writes:

Very Interesting post, Bryan. I do wonder now much value the nutritional studies at google scholar are; I recall Jason Brennan posted a link on FB a month or so ago about the low quality of much nutritional research. I will email Jason about the link.

I also wonder for a section of the population with significantly compromised immune systems, whether some organic foods are better. I've known some doctors and dietitians who have recommended some organic foods on these grounds.

libfree writes:

signaling all the way.

I buy organic because it shows I care about the quality of the food I serve to my friends and family.

restaurants serve them to show that they care about quality.

Super Markets satisfy both of these markets.

Michael Keenan writes:

Drop (a) and embrace Masonomics: Markets fail. Use markets.

Zyxomma writes:

I buy and eat organic food because I don't want to eat poison. Petrochemicals used as fertilizer, organophosphates used as pesticides, neonicotinoids that kill honeybees and mess with their minds and memories (to the point that they can't remember their way to the hive), and genetically modified ingredients don't belong in my diet, and I'm willing to pay a premium to ensure that what I put into my body supports my health.

Thus far, I've been successful. I have ZERO health problems at 57. When I went through menopause, I did so without a single hot flash or other symptom. I've had friends who accompany me while shopping say, "You spend so much money on food!" It's true. But apart from cleanings at the dentist, my medical bills are nonexistent. Organic (especially local) food is worth the price.

A Country Farmer writes:

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Lori writes:

When the organic bananas are from Colombia and the inorganic (?) bananas are from Costa Rica, I buy the inorganic bananas. When the organic bananas are from Ecuador and the inorganic bananas are from Honduras, I buy the organic bananas. It seems to be a seasonal thing, but I haven't figured it out. The PLU code is always either 4011 or 94011, so I'm guessing I'm generating no signal whatsoever. So, yeah, organic is a scam, but so is everything.

Peter H writes:

It can be about features that correlate with organic too.

For example, heirloom tomatoes taste better than ones bred to survive long distance shipping. Heirloom tomatoes are also nearly universally grown organic, and I buy them. Not because they're organic, but because they taste better.

David P writes:

When comparing apples to organic apples, the organic ones will usually be fresher and I don't think the "30-50% premium" takes that into account. I bet if you adjusted for quality the premium would be a lot less.

Brian Clendinen writes:

"Zyxomma:I buy and eat organic food because I don't want to eat poison. Petrochemicals used as fertilizer, organophosphates used as pesticides, neonicotinoids that kill honeybees and mess with their minds and memories (to the point that they can't remember their way to the hive)."

So I suppose you have links to research which shows how farm workers have a huge increase in health issues since they are exposed to multiple times the level of these "poison" as though’s who don't eat organic.

As a teenager my mom went on an Organic binge for a few year. The Amish organic cheese is the best cheese I have had in my life, and gridding your own organic wheat (once she figured out the recipes) made really good breads (however, horrible for bake goods). I only buy Local or Organic if the quality (taste) is better.

I would be intrested to know what % of people who think Organic is better for you are Woman verse men. 90% of the men I know that Eat Organic do it because of their Wifes. They could care less and most think it is a scam but go along to keep their wife happy.

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