However new US research shows that the mere use of a label saying 'organic' can trick us into believing the food is healthier, lower fat and lower calorie than and absolutely identical 'non-organic' product.
Worse still it can persuade us to pay up to 25% more for the same product!
The phenomenon is known as the 'health halo effect'.
A team of scientists at New York’s Cornell University recruited 115 people to evaluate three pairs of products: two yogurts, two cookies and two bags of crisps.
One item from each food pair was labelled 'organic', while the other was labelled 'regular'.
What they didn't realise was that each of the product pairs were organic and identical.
The volunteers were asked to rate the taste and calorie content of each item, and how
much they would be willing to pay for the items.
A questionnaire also inquired about their environmental and shopping habits.
Even though the foods were all the same, the 'organic' label greatly influenced people’s perceptions.
The cookies and yogurt were estimated to have significantly fewer calories when labeled 'organic' and people were willing to pay up to 23.4 per cent more for them.
The nutritional aspects of these foods were also greatly biased by the 'health halo' effect, the researchers found.
The 'organic' cookies and yogurt were said to taste ‘lower in fat than the regular variety, and the 'organic' cookies and crisps were thought to be more nutritious.
The label even tricked people’s taste buds: when perceived as 'organic', crisps seemed more appetising and yogurt was judged to be more flavorful.
Conversely, 'regular' cookies were reported to taste better-possibly because people often believe healthy foods are not tasty.
But the researchers found that people who regularly read nutrition labels, those who regularly buy organic food, and those who recycling are less susceptible to the organic ‘health halo’ effect.