Is it true that organic food consumers are self righteous? A new study provides some evidence to support this theory. The researchers simply had people look at photos of organic food or “comfort” food or non-comfort food. They then asked participants to judge fictional situations and how much time they would devote to helping a stranger. It was found that those individuals who were exposed to the organic foods judged others more harshly than those in the other two groups. It was also found that they were less willing to devote time to assisting a stranger (13 minutes) than those in the other groups (24 minutes for the comfort food group and 19 minutes for the control group). The author of the study surmised that the exposure to organic foods somehow made people feel superior and as if they had already done their good deed so they didn’t need to devote as much time to helping a stranger as those in the other groups.
I wish I was able to access the journal article without paying an arm and a leg. Sadly, I can’t so I’m going to have to speculate a little here. I wonder what the organic foods were that were shown to the study participants. It sounds like they were packaged foods with “moral” names such as “Honest Tea, Purity Life, and Smart Balance”. I doubt the same result would have been seen if participants were exposed to organic fruits and vegetables. Also, the “comfort” foods used sound more like indulgences to me. They used things like cookies and brownies. I wonder if this group was seemingly more altruistic because they felt guilty about their exposure to these treats. And how were the neutral foods chosen? Oatmeal definitely sounds like a comfort food to me. I’d like to see how a group with no food exposure would respond to the scenarios.
I’m not sure what the point of this study was. Are we trying to deter people from consuming organic food? Are we trying to instil people with the belief that people who eat organic food are condescending jerks? Don’t let this dissuade you from eating organic foods if you want to.