The Organic Effect

Misleading labels aside, when we’re talking about actual organic food, most of us can agree that it’s probably better for our bodies than veggies sprayed with pesticides. But factors like the price and convenience of non-organic goods are pretty tough to resist.

Swedish grocery chain Coop has been working since the 1980s to educate consumers on the benefits of eating organic, help farmers switch to growing organic, working to make organic food more accessible, and challenging politicians to do more for organic food production in Sweden. And while it can tell us all about scientific studies on pesticide levels in our bodies, it doesn’t have the same impact as if they showed us.


So the brand and agency Forsman & Bodenfors enlisted the Palmbergs, a typical Swedish family, to participate in a three-week experiment switching from conventional food to organic. The first week the five members of the family ate their usual non-organic meals, and gave urine samples each day. In independent tests conducted by the Swedish Environmental Research Institute IVL, eight of a chosen 12 pesticides showed up in their systems. Then the Palmbergs switched to 100% organic food for two weeks. New urine samples were taken, and after a few days almost all of the pesticides were gone.


We can debate whether those pesticide levels are harmful, but using a show-not-tell approach to make a simple point about the difference between organic and non-organic is a pretty effective gambit.

By Jeff Beer

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