For The Health Of It

10 09 2012

Turns out that “going green” results in bottom lines equally green…as in cash. The current US market for organic foods and beverages is $30 billion…not bad for something that was once deemed the province of hippies and tree huggers. It is so mainstream that most supermarkets carry more than just a token selection of organics; it also explains why Whole Foods is now a Fortune 300 company.

Never mind the often higher prices of organics. The real question is whether they are good for you. A recent study purports that organics are no more nutritious than non-organics. So what does this mean for the industry?

If you read the study results closely, it should mean absolutely nothing.

How’s that again, Dr. Yogurt-and-Granola?

Simple. The research question of the study is whether organics are more nutritious than non-organics, which completely misses the mark. Consumers who purchase organics are likely to be buying them not for perceived benefit, but instead for detriment avoidance. No one ever said that organics are any better for you; no, the claim is that they are less bad for you. One does not eat organics to get more vitamins and minerals.

Two very different claims, as it turns out.

The growth of organics mirrors the aging of the US population, in particular the Baby Boomers. Born between 1946 and 1964, the Boomers are either in their peak earning years, or recently retired. Paying a little more for groceries is not much of a problem, especially for a generation that decided long ago it wanted to live forever. And if paying more for foods without all those nasty pesticides, herbicides, etc., can deliver the promise of a healthier life, it’s a rational expense.

Frankly, I am surprised the study has gotten such traction, because it asked the wrong question. Instead, the researchers should have asked, “What are the measurable benefits, if any, from eating organic foods?”

But what do I know? I am just a Baby Boomer trying to stay healthy, trying to not ingest a chemical cocktail each time I eat, hoping to keep this body in good shape for many more years to come. Think of it as rust-proofing my body. We do the same for cars because we want them last a long time.

And I am happy to pay more.

Dr “The Whole Truth” Gerlich



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