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Organic Food and Psychology: How Perception Makes Us Spend 47% More [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 18, 2017 12:01 PM EDT
Whole Foods To Buy Wild Oats Markets For $565 Million
AN FRANCISCO - FEBRUARY 22: A customer shops for produce at a Whole Foods Market February 22, 2007 in San Francisco, California. Whole Foods Market Inc. announced that it plans to purchase Wild Oats Market Inc. for an estimated $565 million in hopes of competing with larger food chains that have started to introduce organic and prepared foods to their inventories.
(Photo : Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

People may find that organic foods taste better than conventionally grown produce but evidence shows our perception of food goes beyond what our sense of taste dictates. Considering the cost of organic food might want us to evaluate our perception of food in general.

Color plays a role in the way we look at food. Serving food on blue plates is known to help decrease appetite. Studies have shown that people over-serve themselves when the plate provides less color contrast with the food. A person might eat more green salads when it is on a green plate.

Our judgment is also influenced by shape. White round plates enhance our impression of sweetness and intensity. Labeling also makes it hard for us to tell which food actually tastes better. Blind tastings have demonstrated this phenomenon. Visual cues and the lack thereof makes 8 percent of color-blind men not be able to differentiate a well-done steak and a rare one even if other signals such as texture were present, according to Psychology Today.

In the same way, beliefs and expectations could be affecting one's preference for organic food because of the supposed superiority in flavor.

A study done by USDA reported that pesticide residues were found in 43 percent of 571 samples marked "organic". The contamination could have come from fields nearby which practice conventional farming.

The high demand for organic food has motivated producers to industrialize so the idea of the foods coming from a completely organic farming practice may be far from reality.

Research revealed no significant difference in the nutrient content of organic food and those grown in a conventional way, according to Mayo Clinic. Products can be labeled 100 percent organic and can carry the USDA Organic seal if it is made of all organic ingredients, and products which are at least 95 percent organic may still have the "organic" label.

Our cognitive bias could be serving as blinders, making us unable to separate fact from fiction. As a result, we spend much more for organic food when in fact we might just be paying 47 percent more due to the subjectivity of the way we think of food.

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