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Buying Organic Makes You A Jerk, Study Says

Organic Food Study

People who buy organic food tend to act like jerks, according to a study published on May 15th in the journal of Social Psychological and Personality Science.

MSNBC states that Renate Raymond, a 40-year-old arts administrator in Seattle told them:

“I stopped at a market to get a fruit platter for a movie night with friends but I couldn’t find one so I asked the produce guy. And he was like, ‘If you want fruit platters, go to Safeway. We’re organic.’ I finally bought a small cake and some strawberries and then at the check stand, the guy was like ‘You didn’t bring your own bag? I need to charge you if you didn’t bring your own bag.’ It was like a ‘Portlandia skit.’ They were so snotty and arrogant.”

The study’s lead author, Kendall Eskine, is an assistant professor of the department of psychological sciences at Loyola University in New Orleans. According to the study, Eskine stated:

“There’s a line of research showing that when people can pat themselves on the back for their moral behavior, they can become self-righteous.”

He went on to say that:

“I’ve noticed a lot of organic foods are marketed with moral terminology, like Honest Tea, and wondered if you exposed people to organic food, if it would make them pat themselves on the back for their moral and environmental choices. I wondered if they would be more altruistic or not.”

Newser reports that the study separated 60 people into three different groups. One of the groups looked at photos of organic food, another looked at comfort foods, such as cookies and brownies, and the last looked at foods that were neither, such as mustard and oatmeal.

Finally, the groups were asked to take place in a morality judgement. According to MSNBC, Kendall stated:

“We found that the organic people judged much harder compared to the control or comfort food groups. On a scale of 1 to 7, the organic people were like 5.5 while the controls were about a 5 and the comfort food people were like a 4.89.”

He concluded by saying:

“People may feel like they’ve done their good deed. That they have permission, or license, to act unethically later on. It’s like when you go to the gym and run a few miles and you feel good about yourself, so you eat a candy bar.”

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67 Responses to “Buying Organic Makes You A Jerk, Study Says”

  1. Joy Bracero

    60 people = joke of a study with a.5 difference in 2/3 and BTW.
    I'd rather be a jerk with an opinion about what I eat and feed my family (my money, my family).
    oh I keep forgetting our Country wants us to all be dumb pink slime.

  2. Harold Thomas

    I don't think buying organic food makes you a jerk. I think organic food just appeals to self-righteous jackasses.

  3. Anonymous

    Just looking at photos of organic food will make me more judgmental? What I was eating a brownie at the same time?

  4. John Adams

    Everybody knew this about the crusaders. What's worse, they contrive a lot of the causes they then slay with their fake activism. I've got nothing against organic foods–just the arrogant, elitist attitude that accompanies them. It's a marketing gimmick (along with all the other "green" initiatives like hybrid cars, reusable bags, etc.). If it wasn't, there wouldn't be so much pressure to fall in line and march in lockstep. And no, it's not eating a candy bar after working out–it's like thinking you have all the answers and anybody who doesn't believe as you do is an ignorant fool.

  5. Anonymous

    So you read the original article, calculated the Cohen's d, looked at the variance in their scales and decided it didn't pass muster for their conclusion? Or just a lazy offhand comment? (btw, professional reviewers do all of that stuff, you know that right? This a top journal.)

  6. Rod Zamarron

    This reminds me of the South Park episode with the "smug cloud" and Kyle's dad and his friends loving the smell of their own farts.

  7. Kurt Schlotthauer

    Haha!! My mom made me laugh the other day when we saw something about free range chickens. She said "You know what free range chickens usually eat? Cow shit." True talk from a farm raised girl. Ha!

  8. James Foye

    Umm, take a step back and realize parody when you see it. Then again, I guess your comment kinda like proves the point about 4.85 of every 10 people…

  9. Rod Zamarron

    Make sure you warm up properly before patting yourself on the back; you don't want to injure yourself!

  10. Michael Freddoso

    Sample size matters less than the sampling method. If the sampling is random, 60 can be a sufficient size for a sample to be representative. And on a scale from 1 to 7, it is not surprising that a difference of .5 might be statistically significant.

    As for your stated preference, mission accomplished.

  11. Matthew Harris

    The same goes with trendy charities. I tried to donate $20 online to the AIDS Walk in New York City last weekend, and it wouldn't take my money. $25 is the minimum they'll accept. You see, it's not about saving lives, or they'd be happy to take any amount. It's about joining an elite club of the enlightened, and $25 is the membership fee.

  12. Benjamin Skott

    I used to smoke….. Then I quit and was a self-righteous jerk about it to people I knew who still smoked. Then I started smoking again and realized what a jerk I had been. Since then I have quit again (well over a year cigarette free now!) and have managed to not be a self-righteous jerk about it. I think I'm a better person for realizing this. And I definitely see that self-righteous behavior from people who think they know better than other people about things. Funny thing is, they are often wrong, but won't apologize for being jerks when they realize it.

  13. Benjamin Skott

    Fine to be a jerk to your family about it. But if other people don't subscribe to your ideas about what is healthy, keep your opinion to yourself.

  14. Anonymous

    Reusable bags can have germs and bacteria from the last product carried in them. Last week dozens were sicken by cookies transported in just such a reusable bag. Darwin strikes again.

  15. Marc Adler

    Did MSNBC remove the article linked to in this article? This whole thing sounds too funny to be true.

  16. David Liberman

    They looked at pictures of the food. Hardly the same as regularly eating it. Perhaps jerks spend their time looking at pictures of organic food.

  17. David Liberman

    They looked at pictures of the food. Hardly the same as regularly eating it. Perhaps jerks spend their time looking at pictures of organic food.

  18. Joy Bracero

    I read this article after seeing it on the news and I'm amazed that this study (yes a small study) can claim such a harsh statement of calling Shoppers "jerks" because of what they buy and eat, I guess if i see someone buying all processed foods I can create a study to call them "fat" its a double standard world. so yes, I'm ok with being a self-validaiting jerk with morals (according to this "study") I guess it's bcause I'm not poisioned by all those hormone, antibiotic, GMO's, MSG and dyed induced products. No nerve touched here just an opinion.

  19. Joy Bracero

    Me either, but according to "research" we must be I'm just being 'honest"

  20. Peter McNaughton

    I'm not sure if buying organic makes you a jerk, but it sure as hell doesn't make you moral. Or maybe it's all those hormones and antibiotics poisoning my brain.

  21. Peter McNaughton

    I'm not sure if buying organic makes you a jerk, but it sure as hell doesn't make you moral. Or maybe it's all those hormones and antibiotics poisoning my brain.

  22. David Brewin

    From what I've seen at our farmer's market there's a really good core of people there and I don't think I've ever seen a jerk there. I'd venture to say also that more and more conservatives are starting to buy organic.

  23. Mountain John

    I am thinking that the person who wrote that article might consider changing professions.

  24. Mountain John

    I suspect this husband and wife in my shop right now might eat organic food…

  25. James Johnson

    Mountain John What does "the person who wrote the article" have to do with the studies assumptions? They simply reported on a PUBLISHED study. Although I agree the study is a bit silly, perhaps it should have focused on Prius owners 😉 LOL….Kidding…Sort of.

  26. Rich Knudsen

    So I take it this author has not seen the episode of "South Park" where Cartman had to save Kyle from his parents move to Frisco with a case of Smug from owning a Prius. Same attitude, same motivation. In my neck of the woods we like to call them folks simple things like A__holes and Dirtbags. Stay Happy.

  27. Lucy Sue Flynn

    @ Michael Fredosso, true but shouldn't they include margins of error on the estimates, so we can see if the confidence intervals overlap? I'm always seeing stuff like this published where they say that there was a difference, but don't actually tell you if that difference was statistically significant or not. With a difference as small as 0.5 you'd think it would be especially important to note… Cheers. :-)

  28. Michael Freddoso

    Joy Bracero – Not because of what they eat. The study found a correlation, but that does not entail a causal relationship.

  29. Jayson Knowles

    Joy just because you have an opinion doesn't mean you're still not wrong. And MSG is only a salt derived from a natural amino acid (with much less sodium, it turns out!) and scientists discovered your tongue actually has receptors for it. Way to be a jerk about MSG.

  30. Michael Freddoso

    Lucy Sue Flynn – It irks me to no end that reporters do not understand how to report the results of studies in a way that allows the reader to evaluate them. I would bet that if you read the actual study, all of that information would be in there. But it appears to cost money to read beyond the abstract, so I'm not goiing to bother.

  31. Lucy Sue Flynn

    You know Michael, I'm actually trying to crusade a bit in this arena – I live in the Republic of Georgia and a local consulting firm and I are trying to get get funding to put on trainings for journalists on how to understand and report on stuff like this. Fingers crossed for us… 😀

  32. Craig Morgan

    they did an episode of south park on this. these people were enjoy the smell of their own farts. pure genius.

  33. Lester Equality Metta

    The conclusion sounds like a HUGE stretch to me. The people doing the study had an agenda.

  34. Adrian Rn

    straw man argument writing. poorly written actually….people are jerks in general, regardless of what kind of food they buy 😛

  35. Lester Equality Metta

    I think that 'evaluate' is more accurate than 'judge'. It is obvious that people who care about reducing the chemicals they use will evaluate more than people who don't care.

  36. Lester Equality Metta

    And the second paragraph in the article seems silly to me. There are areas that do have laws now that require businesses to charge for bags if they do not bring them. It also sounds like he went to a small mom/pop type market. Those stores do not have the space to offer the variety that the larger stores offer.It is silly to expect them to.

  37. Jennifer Barut

    I wish everyone could afford organic all the time. Doesn't make you a jerk…..I love ORGANIC…..i don't think I am a jerk…:-)

  38. Steven Fogarty

    You're not a jerk! Reposting does not equal endorsement :-) Everyone should be free to spend their money on anything legal that they want, including overpriced organic food :-)

  39. Ronno Cooke

    The people in the "group" may not have even been organic buyers….it was never asked…..they were just shown pictures of organic food… lack of logic or scientific protocol

  40. Suzanne Ballard

    I ranted on that yesterday at my farm page…..

  41. Suzanne Ballard

    I think that this might just be hint of an indication as to why the average person is so resistant to organic food. I disagree with the study and think it was biased toward proving something that doesn't really exist. I DO think that many people who are into organic foods are into it because it is more expensive, ergo more elitist and those are not the people I feel like truly understand what organic really means. And I have met growers who were just as arrogant, generally the ones who got into organic just for the money. If there is any blame to be placed on why this has happened, I place it solely on advertisers, retailers and the media….the unholy trinity of misinformation.

  42. Lyn Collins

    Just because you eat healthy and buy organic only makes you a healthier person, not a better person than the rest of the world.

  43. Rogelio Bantiles

    Dear Cynthia, How funny… Gives one a sense of perspective and balance. Anyway, you recruited Leclec to the Greenbelt Organic Market, which I also assisted. I guess that makes three of us. By the way, thanks for accepting my friendship. And sorry for this late acknowledgment of that fact.

  44. Rogelio Bantiles

    Another thing, Hugo Chavez is dead. You must be sad. I feel the same. I hope he built on solid foundations and that what he left behind cannot be undone.

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