Halo Effect :: Not Everything Labeled Organic Is Gold

J. Lucas, contributing writer

A new preliminary study released by Jenny Wan-chen Lee, a graduate student in Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, illustrates the hall effect of the term organic relative to consumers and marketing.

A double-blind test was conducted by asking 144 subjects to compare their thoughts on conventional and organic products. In the study, all the organic products we actually all organic and we labels as regular or organic. They were asked to rate the products on their different attributes. Almost all of the subjects preferred the taste characteristics of the organically labels products. “The foods labeled “organic” were also perceived to be significantly lower in calories and evoked a higher price tag. In addition, foods with the “organic” label were perceived as being lower in fat and higher in fiber. Overall, organically-labeled chips and cookies were considered to be more nutritious than their “non-organic” counterparts.”1

This is a clear lesson for consumers. A label, package, or marketing pitch dressed in organic messaging is not indicative of quality. It is imperative that we individually research all we consume, talk with out local farmers to be clear on what is used in their growing process, and take responsibility for our oversell well-being.

1 The Health Halo Effect: Don’t Judge a Food by its Organic Label
Jenny Wan-chen Lee (Cornell University), Mitsuru Shimizu (Cornell University), and Brian Wansink (Cornell University) were coauthors on this paper.


YGL staff