Consumers now spend $39 billion a year on organic food (10 times higher than 20 years ago) in the hopes that it’s healthier than average fare. Is it?
In March a U.K. study touting the benefits of organic milk and meat met with a swift backlash. “Headline-grabbing speculative health claims,” cried one British academic. In 2012 a Stanford University study found no strong evidence that organic foods are especially nutritious. Two years later, Newcastle University said that organics had higher key antioxidants—but the jury’s still out on how helpful they are.
While scientists engage in a food fight, consumers have been persuaded. Organic food sales make up nearly 5% of the total food market. And a recent survey found 33% of consumers say organics are very important—even at a higher price.
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A version of this article appears in the April 1, 2016 issue of Fortune with the headline “Shoppers Like Organic Food a Lot More Than Scientists.”