Stereotypically, organic leafy greens washed down with a recycled jar of kombucha might be considered a typical meal for those hippie Californians. But those earthy West Coasters aren't the only ones interested in eating organic anymore.
As it turns out, eating organic food is growing as a priority nationwide. As reported in a 2014 Gallup study, 45 percent of Americans actively seek out organic foods. This same study found that city-dwellers (as opposed to those who report living in a rural area) and West Coasters are more likely to include organic food in their diets.
According to Campbell Soup Company and Sperling’s Best Places study, these are the 10 most organic cities in America:
- Portland, OR
- San Francisco, CA
- Providence, RI
- Sacramento, CA
- Minneapolis, MN
- Boston, MA
- Seattle, WA
- Austin, TX
- Philadelphia, PA
- Washington, D.C.
Investigators combined the findings of original research and existing related research and data on this topic to find the most popular cities for organic eating. The data was based on metrics related to consumers' preferences for organic foods. A poll conducted on Sperling’s Best Places website, which yielded 6,500 responses from participants across the U.S. in three days, was included, as well as Yelp results for "Organic Grocery Stores" and "Organic Restaurants," local farmers' markets and community supported agriculture groups (CSAs), and consumers' buying habits at the grocery store.
So what exactly does "organic" mean, besides more expensive? The USDA National Organic Program (NOP) defines organic as food that is "produced by farmers who emphasize the use of renewable resources and the conservation of soil and water to enhance environmental quality for future generations." One hundred percent organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products are produced from animals that are fed no growth hormones or antibiotics. Organic produce is grown without using conventional pesticides or fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients.
While the term organic is often subjected to the health halo effect, there are cases when organic may be better. For example, a recent study published in Environmental Health Perspectives found that people who eat organic fruits and vegetables may have lower levels of certain pesticides in their bodies compared to those who eat conventionally grown produce.
Before a product is labeled "organic," it has to be reviewed by a USDA National Organic certifying agent, who inspects the farm from where the food is grown to make sure the farmer is abiding by the required rules necessary to meet USDA organic standards.
The market certainly reflects Americans' increasing interest in eating organic: In 2013, mega-retailer Target launched its "Simply Balanced" grocery wellness brand, in which 40 percent of its products are organic. Campbell's recently put out a line of organic soups and even American dogs have the option to eat pesticide free.