People find food tastes better when they think it is organic, a new study finds.
Researchers from University of Gävle in Sweden offered 44 participants two identical cups of coffee, telling them one was organic. When asked which one tasted better, most of the subjects pointed to the supposedly organic version.
"An increasingly large number of products are marked with morally loaded labels such as fair-trade and organically produced -- labels associated with social or environmental responsibility that speak to our conscience," the researchers wrote.
"We show that eco-labels not only promote a willingness to pay more for the product but they also appear to enhance the perceptual experience of the product's taste. Who needs cream and sugar when there is eco-labeling?"
Researcher Patrik Sorqvist added: "In the case of crop products, like coffee, consumers could quite easily imagine production differences that could influence taste, such as crop spraying."
The latest study, published online in the journal PLoS, builds on the team's prior research finding that people believe organic products are healthier and contain fewer calories.
Last year, a large-scale study from Stanford University in the California stirred up debate after claiming that when it comes to nutrition, organic foods, such as meat, dairy, and produce, may not be worth the extra cash. While organics come at a premium, researchers said they are not healthier and not significantly safer than conventional foods and produce grown with pesticides.
Organic foods can cost as much as a third more than conventional alternatives, with consumers shelling out the extra cash with the hopes of purchasing healthier, more nutrient-dense food.
A separate new study, published last year, from Oxford University in the U.K. found that organic farming may not be better for the environment either. The researchers cited that organic products such as milk, cereals, and pork generate higher greenhouse gas emissions than their conventional counterparts. However, organic beef produced lower emissions.