Survey Reveals Why Organic Labels Don't Mean Much To Consumers

Let's say you want to get a pot roast for dinner, a nice big hunk of beef you can pop in a slow-cooker until it gets tender. You want to get beef that's obviously going to be good, but not expensive enough to run up the grocery bill. When given a choice, you can pick either an average, no-frills piece of beef or one that's "certified organic" but much pricier. You'll obviously choose the less-expensive piece of beef over the pricier option, no matter how organic it claims to be. After all, what does organic food really mean?

It's no secret that we want to eat good, clean food. We want to buy food that's all-natural and delicious over something processed and cheap. Yet, why do we always turn to the cheaper, relatively inorganic options? Scientific American believes the reason behind our avoidance of organic foods is tied to the usage of "non-synthetic" fertilizers and pesticides that make us as sick as mainstream pesticides. The American Council of Scientific Health reasons that not only would you be paying more for barely noticeable differences, but most of the things you hear about GMOs and pesticides are overplayed. 

But one survey claims that Americans aren't turned away just by cost or rumors alone — another issue has taken center stage.

Shoppers care about animal welfare, too

According to Food Dive, people tend to care if a product is "cruelty-free" more than they care whether or not it's organic. A survey conducted by Edelman Data and shared by the Organic Trade Association revealed that out of 2,500 consumers, a majority were concerned regarding the treatment of farm workers and animals. But what does "cruelty-free" even mean? Is it just another buzzword companies use to sell their products?

The Cruelty-Free Shop defines a cruelty-free product as "a product that has not been tested on animals by the manufacturer." At the same time, it states that certain animal products such as meat, fish, dairy, and honey also fall under the animal cruelty range. The only solution, they propose, is going vegan. While some people may wholeheartedly agree with this claim, others may say that's a bit too extreme. So, is it possible to enjoy meat and dairy without supporting animal cruelty?

The ASPCA has created what it calls the Shop with Your Heart Grocery List, which contains plant-based alternatives to meat-based protein or farms that have earned one or more animal welfare recommendations. For example, if you were to shop for chicken, you could specify your search for meat from animals that were raised "on pasture, with outdoor access, or indoors in an enriched environment," per the ASPCA website. While organic status may not be consumers' most important concern, the guide will help shoppers find food that was raised humanely.