Background and methodology:
Consumers have been increasingly interested in the quality of so-called “natural” or “organic” foods. Many individuals who espouse the “health food” movement have claimed superior properties for organically grown vegetables. However, several scientists have examined the claim concerning organic foods and have concluded that the value of organically grown food is doubtful, especially in the area of nutrients and cost. The purpose of this study was therefore to provide experimental data, which would bear on undocumented claim as to the superior flavor of so-called “organic” or “natural” foods. Four vegetables (lettuce, green beans, broccoli greens and carrots) were grown under three conditions: depleted soil (no additional fertilizer or pesticides): commercially fertilized (plus pesticide) and organically fertilized (manure, no pesticide). Fifty consumer subjects evaluated the four vegetables individually in separate sessions, using a 1 to 9 hedonic rating scale.
There was a significant preference for the commercial and depleted sample of carrots over organic sample. Organic broccoli was preferred to depleted and commercial samples. The data indicated that the consumer would not be getting a more acceptable product if organically grown vegetables were purchased.
Schutz, H. G. & Lorenz, O. A. (1976). Consumer preferences for vegetables grown under “commercial” and “organic” conditions. Journal of Food Science 41:70-73.