Searching for the truth about organic consumers

Posted by Josette Dunn on 20th September 2010

Foodies, gourmets and lovers of all things organic are wanted for an RMIT University study into the behaviours and beliefs of organic consumers.


The Organic Consumption Survey is the first stage of a larger trial investigating whether people who eat organic food have different levels of agricultural toxins in their bodies than people who eat conventional (non-organic) food.

PhD candidate Liza Oates, from RMIT’s School of Health Sciences, said the information from the online survey was crucial to ensuring the trial was relevant to – and reflective of – Australian organic consumers.

“We know it’s unrealistic for many people to eat 100 per cent organic so we need to know just how much people who support organic ideals – and make an effort to buy organic products – are actually managing to consume,” Ms Oates said.

“We also want to get a basic picture of Australian organic consumers so we can make sure that the people in the final study are representative of the wider group.”

People who take part in the Organic Consumption Survey will be invited to participate in an additional three-day Organic Food Intake Survey, to assess the percentage of organic food they consume.

The final phase of the research will involve testing body levels of agricultural toxins among organic and non-organic consumers and will be conducted next year.

Recent US studies of children found substituting non-organic fruits and vegetables with organics for five days resulted in an almost complete reduction in organophosphate pesticide residues, with synthetic pyrethroid insecticide exposure halved.

“Research shows eating organic food has a dramatic impact on pesticide residues in children’s bodies but there’s little information about the impact on adults,” Ms Oates, who coordinates the Food as Medicine course in RMIT’s Master of Wellness program, said.

“Our study aims to provide a strong evidence base and assist Australian consumers in deciding whether organic food provides value for money.”

For more information:

To access the Organic Consumption Survey: