45% of Americans seek out organic foods

August 11, 2014

According to a recent Gallup poll, a little less than half of Americans—45%—actively try to include organic foods in their diets, while 15% actively avoid them. More than a third, 38%, say they “don’t think either way” about organic foods.

In the United States, inclusion of organic foods is highest in the West (54%) and lowest in the East (39%). Americans who report living in a big or small city are more likely to eat organic foods than those who describe their location as a town or rural area, 50% versus 37%, respectively, while those who live in suburban areas fall between these two groups.

More than half of Americans ages 18–29 actively try to include organic foods in their diets, compared with one-third of Americans ages 65+. Older Americans are slightly more likely than other age groups to “think either way” about organic foods.

Household income is a factor in food choices, with almost half of upper-income Americans actively including organic foods, compared with 42% of lower-income Americans. Almost a quarter of lower-income Americans, however, actively avoid organic foods, while among upper-income Americans it is closer to one in 10. This could be a reaction to cost, as organic foods typically cost 20–100% more than non-organic foods. So, lower-income Americans could be actively avoiding organic foods because they are trying to save money on food purchases, rather than avoiding them because of health reasons or dietary preferences.

Given that almost half of Americans actively try to include organic foods in their diets, they may view the benefits of organic foods as greater than their downsides, such as the higher cost or limited access. Income and location appear to be factors in preference for organic foods, although that may be changing. Wal-Mart, the largest retailer and grocer in the U.S., and known for its low-price business strategy, has announced plans to begin selling organic food. Organic food could soon become more easily accessible and more affordable, and this in turn could encourage more Americans to include it in their diets.

Press release