RODALE NEWS, EMMAUS, PA—A new poll looking at consumer preference regarding organic versus chemically grown food is enough to send shivers down the spines of industrial food execs. In the new Thomason Reuters–NPR health poll, the majority of people in every income range said they would prefer to eat organic food if given the choice. The greatest preference for organic comes from people age 35 and under, with those respondents citing the desire to support local farmers and the need to avoid toxic material in food as the top reasons for wanting organic.
THE DETAILS: Researchers polled about 3,000 people in early May to gather data indicating whether people prefer organic or chemically grown produce. (Food grown with synthetic chemicals is sometimes referred to as "conventional," but organic growing methods have been around a lot longer. So which method is really conventional?)
Nearly 60 percent of respondents said they'd prefer organic, if given a choice. About 45 percent of those people said they look to the local farmer's market to source organic food, followed by the grocery store (32 percent) and a home garden (20 percent).
While the majority in every age group said they prefer organic food, the 35-and-under age group showed the strongest support for organic, with about 63 percent opting for organic.
WHAT IT MEANS: It seems as though every week there's a new scientific study strengthening the case for organic, and this poll shows people are listening. Pesticides have been linked to ADHD, autism, obesity, Parkinson's disease, certain cancers, infertility, miscarriage, diabetes, and other ills. Aside from that, researchers have found that the most used pesticides are tainting not only our water supplies, but our food chain, as well. Systemic pesticides, such as the popular Roundup, are taken up inside of the plant, meaning we're often eating pesticides when we eat conventional food, even if we wash the produce beforehand.
In other news showing a surge in demand for organic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) recently reported a big jump in organic dairy sales. From May 2010 to May 2001, it reports, organic dairy sales climbed more than 20 percent.
Whether you're at home or on the road, use LocalHarvest.org to find organic growers in the area. If you're at the supermarket, know that a USDA organic seal ensures that no chemical pesticides or fertilizers or human sewage sludge were used to grow the food. For more reasons to go organic, check out Why We All Need an Organic Manifesto.