© Borgis - New Medicine 1/2008, s. 16-19
*Ewa Rembiałkowska1, Renata Kazimierczak2, Dominika Średnicka2, Katarzyna Bieńko2, Magdalena Bielska2
Different aspects of organic and conventional food consumers lifestyle
1Head of Organic Foodstuffs Division, Faculty of Human Nutrition and Consumer Sciences Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW 2Organic Foodstuffs Division, Faculty of Human Nutrition and Consumer Sciences Warsaw University of Life Sciences – SGGW
Organic food is becoming more and more popular nowadays. At the same time there are still very few studies which enable us to assess objectively the real influence of organic food on human health.
The aim of this research was to analyze and to compare some aspects of organic and conventional consumers´ lifestyle and to compare the self-assessed health state of organic and conventional consumers.
Material and methods
The research was conducted by a survey method. The questionnaire survey covered 200 women at the average age of 42.3 years: 100 organic consumers and 100 conventional consumers. Respondents were asked to complete an anonymous survey composed of 4 parts concerning health state, nutrition, living environment quality and contact with nature. All the answers were quantified and the received indicators were analyzed by one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), with significance defined as a p-value = 0.05, using STATGRAPHICS(r)Plus 5.1.
The results of the analyses show that organic consumers assess their health state significantly better in comparison with conventional consumers. The nutritional pattern of organic consumers is also much closer to the nutritionists´ recommendations. Moreover, analysis of living environment quality also shows a significant difference in favour of organic consumers. However, the presented analyses did not show any significant differences between organic and conventional consumers in terms of contact with nature.
Promotion of an ecological lifestyle including organic food consumption can positively influence nutritional pattern and the self-assessed health state of consumers.
Organic food is produced under controlled conditions, according to the directions of Council Regulation no. 2092 / 91 (Council Regulation 1991). In organic plant production it is forbidden to use pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, whereas natural animal manures, composts and green manures are allowed. Diversified crop rotation is also very important. In organic animal production it is fundamental to take into consideration animal needs and natural behaviours and to feed animals with fodder produced on the farm. Certification in organic farming guarantees that food production methods are in accordance with the rules and the production system is strictly controlled.
Organic food is becoming more and more popular nowadays. Moreover, there are many studies aimed at analyzing the quality, composition or nutritional value of organically produced foods. Research studies show that the composition of organically produced crops is potentially more profitable for health than conventionally produced crops (Rembiałkowska 2007). Organic crops contain fewer contaminants such as nitrates and pesticide residues but more health-promoting substances such as vitamin C, carotenoids and polyphenolic substances (Rembiałkowska 2007).
At the same time there are still very few studies which enable us to assess objectively the real influence of organic food on human health. Therefore, the main aim of this research was to analyze and to compare some aspects of organic and conventional consumers´ lifestyle and to compare the self-assessed health state of organic and conventional consumers.
Material and methods
The research was conducted by a survey method. The questionnaire survey covered 200 women at the average age of 42.3 years: 100 organic consumers and 100 conventional consumers. Respondents were defined as "organic consumers” if organic products constituted more than 25% of their diet for at least half a year. It was necessary to establish the limit at such a low level because of difficulties in selection of an adequate number of respondents representing a strictly organic diet. The same problem regarded the length of organic consumption period.
Table 1 presents data regarding the length of respondents´ organic consumption period.
Table 1. The length of the period of eating organic.
|Time period||% of consumers|
|Half a year||5|
|More than 4 years||50|
Table 2 presents data regarding the proportion of organic food in organic consumers´ diet.
Table 2. Examples of issues brought up in the survey.
|Part of the survey||Issues|
|Health state||How often they have any infectious diseases (influence etc.), if they have/had any chronic diseases (such as diabetes, cholelithiasis, osteoporosis, hyperthyroidism/hypothyroidism, obesity, cancers, chronic diseases of circulatory system, respiratory system, urinary system, reproductive system, nervous system, sense-organs), if they have/had (and how often) problems with alimentary canal (diarrheas, vomiting, stomach-aches, heartburn, indigestion, flatulences), dental decay, skin diseases, allergies, how often they visit doctors, if they ever have been in hospital (if yes - when), if they have headaches (and how often), if they have sleep problems, if they have enough sleep, how often they have stress, what ways they choose to manage their stress, if they are optimistic/pessimistic, if they use stimulants (coffee, tea, cigarettes, alcohol - and how often), if they practice sport regularly|
|Nutrition||How many meals they eat everyday, if they eat breakfasts, if they eat regularly, how often they eat products from different groups, what they can say about the quality/the nutritional value of their meals, and about the atmosphere during the meals, quantity of liquid they drink, if they eat sweets between the meals, if they are on any special diet, if they pay attention to the presence and the quantity of synthetic food additives in food products, how often they visit fast food restaurants|
|Living environment quality||If they live in a detached house/block of flats, if they live close to motorways, industrial plants, what is the distance between their home and green areas, what is the level of noise exposure in their living environment|
|Contact with nature||Garden plots possession, presence of animals and flowers in living environment, places where they spend their holidays and weekends, how much time they spend close to the nature|
On the other hand, "conventional consumers” were defined as women consuming conventional, market food. Respondents were asked to complete an anonymous survey composed of 4 parts concerning health state, nutrition, living environment quality and contact with nature. Table 3 presents some issues brought up in the survey.
Table 3. Health state indicator of organic and conventional consumers.
|Mean ? SD||21,85 ? 2,837||20,28 ? 3,479|
|Significance||LSD = 0,885; p=0,0006|
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