Well-off California liberals and their college-aged children eat a lot of organic food, finds a recent poll. I know. Breaking news.
Gallup polled approximately 1,000 adults across the U.S. about their purchasing and eating habits and the news wasn’t all that surprising.
“Americans most likely to eat organic are in the West, live in a city, are 18 to 29 years old, vote Democrat or have an annual household income greater than $75,000,” reported the Washington Post. “Those most likely to avoid organic foods are basically the opposite: those who live in the East, live in more rural parts, are age 65 or older, vote Republican or have an annual household income less than $30,000.”
According to another recent poll (participant: me), polls are annoying and superfluous most of the time. After all, they’re just tabulations of what people say they do or think; these aren’t actual behavioral observations. So, in other words, a lot of times polls are meaningless.
But here’s why this one is somewhat worthy of our attention: “Roughly 11 percent of upper-income Americans actively try to avoid including organic food in their diets, while 24 percent of lower-income adults do,” reports the Post. You read right: lots of Americans are intentionally avoiding organic food. Why? The poll doesn’t specify, but we can make a pretty good guess. And it’s most likely because of one of two reasons, if not both.
First, people actively avoid buying organic because they know that, like Gallup revealed, most of the people who purchase organic food identify as liberal. They may choose home births and support gay rights. They may appear too counterculture to be taken seriously. Is there anything more liberal than tattooed hipster urban farmers on bikes? (My conservative Dad once told me he didn’t like being served by a guy at the Whole Foods deli because his tattoos made him look “dirty.”)
The other reason many people “avoid” organic food though is far more disturbing, and that’s because they simply don’t think it matters. They’re the people who apply bargain shopping mentality to food—which is great for finding a deal on a television or a pair of shoes—but is this a healthy approach to food? Should we be opting out of the healthiest selections because they’re more expensive or preferred by Michelle Obama? This California-based tattooed liberal with a savings account doesn’t think so. And that really has nothing to do with my socio-economic status or my liberal views. I’ve had the good fortune of making a living in the food business and seeing firsthand the value of organic food—not just for my body, but also for the environment and the farmers making better money growing it.
It's not necessarily anyone's fault that so many Americans view organic as an added expense to be avoided. Big Food has done a nearly flawless job at convincing us that we need fast food cheap; that fortified is better than food in its whole state; that brands are better equipped at cooking than we are. It's no wonder we still have an image problem when it comes to organic food. We still treat food like an accessory and an identity rather than the nourishment delivery system it is. Rich, poor, conservative, liberal, Californian or Alabamian—we all deserve to eat food that’s good for us, tastes amazing, and delivers integrity with every bite, even if it feels like it shouldn't.
Find Jill on Twitter @jillettinger
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