June 6, 2020

Are Organic Food Consumers More Smug?

Everyone has been lectured at one point or another by someone who is convinced of the superiority of their own personal eating plan. In the 1970s, the stereotype of the judgmental health food advocate was pretty established. So is it true? Are organic food consumers more smug?

Organic ProduceA study that recently appeared in the Journal of Social Psychological & Personality Science, conducted by Dr. Kendall J. Eskine, has revealed that that stereotype may be true. The study is called “Wholesome Foods and Wholesome Morals? Organic Foods Reuce Pro-Social Behavior and Harshen Moral Judgments.”

Dr. Eskine conducted experiments in which he showed participants organic foods, comfort foods, and control foods. Then the subjects were introduced to a “needy stranger”.

Participants who were shown organic foods most often pledged to help the stranger for just 13 minutes. The comfort food group pledged help for 24 minutes, and the control food group for 19 minutes.

The study concludes that the organic group had what Eskine calls “moral licensing”, meaning they had an increased sense of moral superiority so didn’t feel the need to help. In other words, according to the study, “exposure to organic foods may lead people to affirm their moral identities, which attenuates their desire to be altruistic.”

This particular journal is a short-reports publication that publishes unusual and cutting-edge research quickly, although the accepted articles are peer-reviewed.


  1. The height of arrogance is the fact that organic crops and livestock aren’t even tested to ensure they’re organic.

    Think about it, organic activists wake up every morning with a single goal… to undermine and someday destroy the conventional food industry. And here they are, pretending to be in a business that provides purer, more nutritious food, but they don’t even do any testing to see if it’s true.

    The USDA plans to begin testing, but only on 5% of the organic farms it certifies in the United States. It will not test anything from countries like China, Mexico or Brazil where the majority of the “organic” food sold in the U.S. originates from. It’s a near-complete free-for-all.

    • Amy Todisco says

      Seriously? “Organic activists wake up every morning with a single goal… to undermine and someday destroy the conventional food industry”.


      Organic consumers want healthier foods that do not use toxic synthetic chemicals that pollute the land, air, water, human and animal bodies. They want a sustainable farming system that does not rely so heavily on fossil fuels. A system that feeds the soil, not a food corporation’s pocketbooks while disregarding human, animal and environmental health. This is good for everyone.

      Have you read or seen anything about factory farming? It’s pretty nasty. Here’s just one video that gives you an idea of what I’m talking about: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FH8AQzk4HM

      This so called “study” is laughable. I’ve been eating and growing organic food for over 25 years and the others I know like me are some of the most generous, conscientious, giver type people around.

      How many people were “tested”? How did the “researchers” know that people that who looked at the organic foods even purchased them on a regular basis? “Participants who were shown organic foods most often pledged to help the stranger for just 13 minutes.” They were shown organic foods, so that means that they are consumers that purchase organic foods? I don’t think so. This makes no sense. Sweeping conclusions based on nonsense. A more useful study, if we even need to be testing this ridiculous theory, is that researchers could study people who purchase over X percentage (at least 60%) of their grocery budget in organic foods and see how much they gave to charity, volunteered, and whatever other ways that we can determine that they are do gooders, or not versus those that do not purchase any organic food.

      • Linda Larsen says

        This is a single study that was interesting. That’s all!

      • Mischa Popoff says

        Dear Amy:

        Yes, it would be good for everyone if only we could be guaranteed it was true. I inspected organic farms for five years and never once performed a single test to ensure what I saw in the paperwork was true. I wanted to do tests, but the organic industry would not allow it. They still don’t.

        So, you see, it’s hardly a sweeping conclusion. The USDA doesn’t test organic crops and livestock to ensure they’re really free of those toxins you’re rightfully concerned about.

        Sorry that I had to be the one to break it to you.

  2. Reaching!!

    • Linda Larsen says

      Maybe! I’m always skeptical of studies that make such broad claims, although this one is interesting, which is why we reported it. I buy organic foods, and I always try to help people. Recently I purchased a prescription for an elderly man who couldn’t afford it, and I bought a Cinderella doll for a little girl who was eyeing it, but her mother couldn’t afford it.

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