As organic foods become more popular, are they affecting our moral and altruistic tendencies?
Are you one of those people who eats your organic apples while scolding others on their choice of conventional produce?
Maybe it’s a salad made with locally grown kale and farmer-direct pine nuts. Or boiled free-range eggs, acquired in a barter agreement with you neighbour in exchange for some fresh sage grown on your window sill.
If this sounds anything at all like you, chances are, your moral judgment could be compromised. At least that’s according to a recent study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The study is the first to examine how exposure to organic foods influences moral judgment or behaviour. Participants of the study were asked to view various organic foods, comfort foods, and control foods. The results show that participants who viewed organic products volunteered significantly less time to help out a needy stranger. This group also judged moral transgressions significantly harsher than those who viewed nonorganic foods.
The report concludes that exposure to organic foods could drive people to affirm their moral identities and to be more altruistic.
Of course, it’s difficult to argue against the fact that participating in sustainable initiatives such as community gardens could help develop healthy and self-sufficient communities— or supporting farmers’ markets are a way to help small agriculturists and local businesses.
But in our quest for ethical products in our local grocery stores and farmers’ markets, could it be that we might appear negative and/or snobbish to our friends, families, and coworkers?
It’s no secret that support for the organic industry is growing. According to statistics provided by the Organic Trade Association, sales of organic foods and beverages in the US have grown from $1 billion in 1990 to $26.7 billion in 2010. Organic non-food products are also on the rise.
As our moral and altruistic tendencies grow with our support for ethical products, it could be important that we all remember how to get along.
Looking for more ways to become socially conscientious?
- Read about fairness in flowers.
- Or be inspired by Vanessa Farquharson, walking the environmental talk.