Despite concluded that perceived health benefits of organic food

Despite this
discouragement, the global organic market kept on growing, recording 81.6
billion U.S. dollar sales in 2015, with the largest in the United Stated (39.72
billion U.S. dollars) as shown in figure 3. Further, the growth is projected to
continue (Willer & Lernoud, 2017). A study on Appetite concluded that
perceived health benefits of organic food were stronger attributes than
perceived environmental benefits. This means that organic consumers are being
egoistic in their choice rather than altruistic (Magnussona, Arvolaa, Hurstia,
Aberg & Sjoden, 2002). Nevertheless, few know the fact that “organic is a
process claim, not a product claim”, it refers to the process by which the
organic product is being produced and handled rather than the properties of the
finished good itself (Kouba, 2002).

           

 

 

 

 

 

Figure 3: Development of
global organic market 2000-2015

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With the increased
interest in food safety, researchers questioned the reasons. The Department of
Agricultural Economics that conducts surveys over agriculture and nutrition,
tested the perceptions of organic consumers in terms of purchase, food quality,
food safety, and price. Using open-ended questions, consumers stated price,
freshness, quality, appearance and ingredients are the followed criterion in
organic food choice. They proclaimed that there was an encouraging positive
development in food safety, and was willing to pay premium for animal and plant
organic food; 30% and 22% more. They also avoided risks relative to lifestyle,
and others seemed to be uncertain, not trusting food safety authorities (Rohr
et al, 2004).

According to Lockie,
Lyons, Lawrence & Mummery (2002), the growth in the organic food sector is
driven mostly by high income consumers attracted to health and food safety attributes
and to the high status of niche-market organic foods. They tended to apply a
2-path test to collect their data; by focus groups and by surveys. There were
13 focus groups whose interviews were taped, and the surveys were conducted by
1,200 Australian consumers to have data on the organic food consumption and
other health behaviors (motivation and attitudes). After the tests, the result
issued confirms that the limitations against organic food consumption were
cost, convenience and availability. However, the motives were related mostly to
health, environment, animal welfare, and mood; and slightly related to price
and religion. They found that the small number of organic consumers were the
factor behind having a dramatic increase in demand or organic food.

 

Religion
and Food    

Religion is a communal
attribute defined by boundaries. That is, it takes the boundless and binds it
into the limitations of culture and language. In fact, it is originally taken
from the word “religio” – to bind back or to tie. It provides the setting to
the encounter with God, but it is not itself that encounter; spirituality is (Testerman, 1997). Religion
is defined in terms of feeling, conduct and mainly belief; belief in God,
immortality and spiritual beings. Actually, religion is a complex of beliefs.
It is a “perception of man’s relation to the principles of the universe”. And
the religious man must be, to some extent, guided by his religion (Howerth,
2017), as it is an integral part for most individuals’ lives. The Journal of
Consumer Psychology reported an 80% affiliation to religion by people, and 70%
of Americans’ religious beliefs affecting their behaviors (Mathras, 2016).

In general, life is the
great divide: sacred vs. secular; spiritual and matter to God vs. physical and
don’t matter to God. Sacred issues are for sure that are set for holy and
religious use; while secular is everything rest, the world outside and the
current age with its concerns (Eliade, 1987). However, “secular” doesn’t mean
being divorced from faith or religious beliefs; likewise, food “as secular” is,
in some way, related to religion, controlled by religion, and chosen by
religion (Vasudev, 2016).

To be more specific,
the practice of religion or religious beliefs, usually, yields a variety of
favorable health-related outcomes (Testerman, 1997). In terms of a relationship
between religion and food, findings presented that food choice and purchase are
intensely affected by religious lifestyles, in addition to other social and
economic factors (Heiman, Just, McWilliams & Zilberman, 2001). Religion
plus food equals ‘Halal’, mostly. Halal is the Muslim teaching to eat what God
provided and avoid what He prohibited; that is carrion, spurting blood, pork,
not ritually slaughtered meat, and alcoholic drinks (Fischer, 2008).

In traditional
agricultural societies, so much attention was closely paid on how the food was
raised, harvested or slaughtered and then marketed. It has always been an attribute
of religious rituals; and religious guidance has been historically affecting
food choice. As Schut (2006) said; “Food can be sacramental: simply hold in your
hand a piece of fruit, is it not a window through which you can sense your
connection to soil, farmers, sunlight and rain?”

Because
organic food promotes quality food that is a friend to environment, health,
safety and naturalness, consumers may perceive that it, alike with conventional
food, perfectly matches what is permitted by their religion. This is because
they are leaving the responsibility on religious and governmental agencies to
look after this issue (Shaharudin, 2010). Honkanen, Verplanken and Olsen (2006)
described what resulted from their study and concluded that religious motives
weren’t of that much important to 96% of the participants, in their organic
food choice. This is also what was stated by Lindman and Sirelius (2001) who
said that the participants in their studies regarded religion as not important
in their food choice. And regarding specific religions, Muslims for instance,
Halal is the identifying certification in their food choice. They, as
Shaharudin (2010) said, don’t put attention on whether the food is organic or
not, as long as it is Halal.

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