There's a new "organic" twist on the various creative credos that allow people to rationalize their less-than-stellar eating habits. Among them:

  • The calories in food don’t count if you don't have to pay for the food. (That’s great for shopping at Costco, or when a co-worker brings in doughnuts on Friday.)
  • If you eat something healthy for dinner (like a salad) and then reward yourself with a hot-fudge sundae for dessert, the calories cancel each other out.

And now, Cornell University graduate student Jenny Wan-chen Lee has added another myth to this list -- cookies and chips have fewer calories, less fat and more fiber when they are organic.

She discovered this myth when she offered 144 mall shoppers samples of yogurt, chips and chocolate sandwich cookies. Each shopper was given two samples of each food -- one that was supposedly organic and one that was allegedly of the conventional variety. After tasting the food pairs, the shoppers were asked to score both samples on a nin-point scale for qualities including taste and fat content. Lee also asked the shoppers to estimate how many calories were in each food.

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