By Daniel Connolly
15 March 2022
Organic food has now become mainstream. From once being a ploy marketed to “tree-hugging consumers wishing to pay extra” (Zelman, 2017), to now being heavily endorsed by supermarket giants to the environmentally conscious, organic food and the industry itself has been transformed over the last decade (Brassley, 2022).
In light of this transformation in public opinion, I decided to compare organic foods against their inorganic counterparts alongside Will and Niall of Rising Clyde’s staff. This allowed for discussion surrounding the difference in price, taste, appearance and quality of the products. Ultimately, this discourse permitted us to determine if organic food is worth it.
ORGANIC VS NON-ORGANIC FOOD – Blind Taste Test
Firstly, it is important to outline how organic farming differs from industrial farming processes. Through restrictions upon artificial chemical fertilisers and pesticides, animal welfare being central to their operations and a ban on genetically modified crops, sustainable and organic farming is engineered in a way that benefits the environment and the food that it harvests (ecotricity.co.uk).
In establishing our results, Will concocted two types of a particular dish, one of which contained an organic product, and the other constructed with its corresponding normal ingredient. We hypothesised that there would be a notable difference in its taste and quality, inferring that organic products are indeed worth its price for both its production and increased satisfaction.
The dishes we decided to taste were hummus, garlic bread, bang bang broccoli and chicken noodle soup.
The organic products situated in each of these dishes were chickpeas in the hummus, garlic in the garlic bread, broccoli in the bang bang broccoli and chicken stock in the chicken noodle soup.
Chickpeas – the canned organic chickpeas that were noticeably different from the standard ones, in that there was far more aquafaba in the organic chickpeas. Aquafaba is the liquid in which the chickpeas are stored from within the can. Additionally, the smell from the organic chickpeas was far greater than its normal counterpart. With there being far more liquid in the organic can of chickpeas, the houmous produced whilst maintaining all other ingredients in the recipe produced a dip of a watery consistency.
Hummus – with the organic can of chickpeas producing a sloppier hummus, the taste in comparison to the non-organic hummus was negatively affected. Hummus, which is traditionally served as a dip with carrots or breadsticks, usually has a more viscous texture and consistency, so the organic chickpeas generating a watery dish was undesirable. As far as taste, the viscous texture of the non-organic hummus allowed for the rest of the ingredients to be more present. In conclusion, we preferred the inorganic hummus as it was tastier, had a better texture and consistency and served as a dip justly.
Tesco Regular Chickpeas: £0.60
Biona Organic Chickpeas: £1.10
Garlic – once again, there was an obvious visual difference within these products, in that, the organic garlic was far smaller than the standard garlic. We understood this to mean that growth hormones are most likely at play in the production of the ordinary garlic to make them bigger and more appealing to the general public, whereas the organic production favours a smaller bulb that is generated from natural practices. There was no discernible difference in the appearance of the garlic bread created.
Garlic Bread – despite the lack of size in the organic garlic, it was far more present in taste when used in garlic bread. However, both products were delicious and were consumed almost immediately after being made. Our preference lied with the organic garlic bread in this instance. This presents an interesting conclusion, as it can be understood that, although the organic garlic was smaller, it was more flavourful than its non-organic counterpart.
Lidl Regular Garlic: £0.79
Tesco Organic Garlic: £1.00
Broccoli – the visible difference in the organic tenderstem broccoli in contrast to the ordinary tenderstem broccoli, was a consistency and similarity in the length of the stems and florets. Where the standard broccoli differed in size, shape and length, the organic broccoli was far more constant in these measures. When converted with the bang bang sauce, the broccoli in both dishes looked exactly the same, apart from the previously mentioned consistency in the stems and florets.
Bang Bang Broccoli – after tasting both the organic and ordinary broccoli with the Wagamama bang bang sauce, we determined that there was no discernible difference in the taste of each kind of broccoli. Hence, the onus upon whether or not to buy organic broccoli is depending on whether you support organic practices in production and can afford the extra price.
Tesco Tenderstem Broccoli: £1.50
Tesco Organic Tenderstem Broccoli: £2.50
Chicken Stock – whilst there was no visible difference in the appearances of the organic and ordinary chicken stock in both its cubed form and watered state, the contrast in their feel was noticeably different. This is to say that the standard chicken stock was far crumblier when imparted into the water, while the organic counterpart broke down in the form of a paste. In the chicken noodle soup, the two chicken stocks looked identical.
Chicken Noodle Soup – the difference in taste between organic and non-organic chicken stock in this soup was in the saltiness, depth of flavour and ability to incorporate the other components of the dish. We determined that the organic soup was less salty, had more depth in flavour and was able to lift the other ingredients in the bowl. Therefore, our preference lied with the organic chicken noodle soup.
Knorr Chicken Stock Cubes: £1.70
Kallo Organic Chicken Stock Cubes: £1.60
The discourse as to organic food’s benefit to health remains in fervent debate amongst doctors. New York University professor Marion Nestle states, “it really is a personal choice but how can anyone think substances, such as pesticides, capable of killing insects, can be good for you?” In contrast, however, American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Keecha Harris, incites that, “there is no evidence that organic foods are superior over traditional foods” (Zelman, 2017).
Despite these varying opinions it can be seen through our research, that apart from the chicken stock, the price of organic foods is considerably more expensive, with a 21% to 40% increase in our organic products. It is clear that if one were to purchase more organic produce, they would dramatically increase the amount they spend.
It is important to stress that not all organic foods are compatible in dishes intended to go with the inorganic products. This can be witnessed in the hummus that we created. We determined that these organic chickpeas would fit better in a curry or salad, as the dip consistency of regular hummus is not intended for these dishes.
Ultimately, organic food is worth the extra price for what it provides to the environment. What organic products provide in appearance and taste is also, in most cases, far improved from their ordinary counterpart.
Generally, we believe that organic products should be factored into everyone’s shop. With products such as organic chicken stock being cheaper than its non-organic version, there is opportunity to introduce organic products into everyday life. Therefore, there is no real justification for environmentalists worldwide to not opt into buying at least one organically sourced product, in order to facilitate a more climate conscious way of eating.