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Organic Lovers and the Green Halo Effect: Avoiding Organic Trap
For much of human history, consuming locally and naturally produced food was the norm. However, the agricultural industrialization and its effects changed consumers relationships with food and producers - despite the undesirable consequences such as environmental degradation and diminished food quality. With the increasing complexity of food supply chains and the occurrence of several food scandals around the globe (e.g., BSE and avian flu), the search for food quality and safety has changed the consumption habits of a portion of consumers. In this sense, consumer groups that have low trust in the conventional agri-food system have begun to look for alternatives systems such as short chains and organic production. Movements such as agroecology and organic production keep gaining space as health and environmental concerns become important purchase attributes. Therefore, the consumption of organic food emerges as a natural and healthy alternative and, for many consumers, a more reliable form of consumption. Organic food choices can be associated with reasons for the individual, such as the search for health and quality of life, but also with altruistic motives, such as environmental concern and local community support. Besides the attributes of naturalness and healthy, consumers associate organic food with social justice and collaborative purchase. These perceptions may be associated with the Green Halo effect during food purchasing decisions involving organic products. That is, the idea that organic food is a synonymous of a sustainable product, which focus on the local food system, sustainability, and social justice. However, it is known that not all local organic products are necessarily more sustainable. For instance, in some situations, it is better to import the products instead of producing it. Thus, we propose that organic food products can cause a Green Halo effect, with the certification leading the individuals to believe that the products are more ecological and an ethical choice. In this sense, in two experimental studies, we will analyze if food claims generate the perception that organic food is more sustainable and fair trade-related, producing a green halo effect. Therefore, this study aims to gain insight into the purchase of organic as a food ideology that considers organic consumption as a superior way of production and consumption.