Both children and adults preferred apples they believed were grown on farms to those grown in labs, researchers found.
Children were more likely to refer to freshness, being outside, or sunlight when considering why they chose the farm apple. Adults were more likely to mention naturalness.
In a second study, 85 children aged five to seven years old and group of 64 adults were shown four different kinds of orange juice -- one described as squeezed on a farm, one with no information about it, one with chemicals allegedly removed and one described as having chemicals added.
Researchers found that the information on the juice's naturalness had a significant effect on its rating. The participants gravitated to the more natural option based on perceived taste, safety and desire to consume.
Both studies showed that age had little effect on the outcome, with children as young as five and as old as ten responding similarly.
Researchers say the findings suggest the belief that natural foodstuffs are good could be established at five-years-old -- and possibly even younger.
Matti Wilks of the University of Edinburgh's School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, said, "Overall we provide evidence that, at least in the United States, our tendency to prefer natural food is present in childhood. This research offers a first step towards understanding how these preferences are formed, including whether they are socially learned and what drives our tendency to prefer natural things."