blog photoPoliticians often referred to a 90% consumer preference for food labels signaling the existence of genetically modified ingredients—or GMOs as they are known—during this year’s congressional hearings regarding the now enacted “National Bioengineered Food Disclosure Standard.”

This consumer sentiment appeared irrational to some legislative representatives, believing it defied “hard science” showing that GMO foods are “safe” to eat.  Others commented on how consumer reactions to GMO foods were highly-charged and fraught with “emotions.”

Unfortunately, the rushed legislative GMO labeling debate only skimmed the surface of consumer psychology as it relates to an expressed desire for GMO food labeling.

Discomfort with new foodstuffs resides in our age-old “omnivore’s dilemma,” where what you put in your mouth and swallow can possibly injure or leave you and your family on your death beds in Darwinian fashion.  You are what you eat after all.[1]

Innate emotions—such as disgust, fear, distress, anger and rage—arise from and can be amplified by moral notions of food sanctity and its opposite, food contamination and degradation.  As a classic 1970s Chiffon margarine commercial once proclaimed to crackling lightning and thunder: “It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

This post examines GMO food labeling from the developing perspective of “moral foundations” psychology, a topic overlooked in recent hearings.  In doing so, it exposes the fallacy of the “rationalist’s delusion,”—an outmoded, but convenient line of argument that denigrates innate consumer distrust of GMO foodstuffs. Continue Reading GMO Food Labels, Our Emotions and the “Rationalist’s Delusion”

blog imageYou’re a sheriff’s deputy and you’re hungry.  You stop at the local Burger King drive-thru and order a Whopper with cheese.  You often eat five meals a day—frequently at fast food restaurants—because you work night shifts.  Yet, this time you drive away with an uneasy feeling.  You stop in another parking lot to examine your hamburger.

As you lift the bun, you notice a “puddle of phlegm” on it.  It looks like oil or fat. You stick your finger in it to see.  It’s neither.  You’ve touched the spittle of a Burger King employee.  He later pleads guilty to felony assault and is sentenced to 90 days in jail.

 You’re nauseated by this traumatic event.  Because of it, you can no longer eat any prepared foods.  Once, when you were served spaghetti at a friend’s home, you vomited right then and there.  Even walking past free samples in grocery stores makes you want to barf.  Unable to eat out, you binge once a day at home on food you prepare yourself.  Your repeated nightmares involve food poisoning or other communicable diseases.

You’re now seeing a mental health professional to overcome these food aversion issues.  You’ve been taught some coping techniques, including how to clear your mind before eating or going to sleep, but progress has been very slow.[1] Continue Reading Compensating “Disgust”: Psychoanalyzing Emotional Distress Claims Involving Food Products